In 2014, Adam Bry and a group of MIT researchers founded the drone manufacturer, Skydio. Since its inception, Skydio has grown at a phenomenal rate, and now ranks as one of the world leaders in autonomous flight. The company, which has just secured $170 million in Series D funding, is currently valued at over $1 billion. Find out more about the Skydio CEO as we uncover ten things you didn't know about Adam Bry.
1. He studied at MIT
After high school, Bry won a place studying Mechanical Engineering at the Franklin Olin College of Engineering. He graduated in 2008. In 2009, he returned to education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating in 2012 with a Master's Degree in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Astronautical Engineering. During his time at MIT, he was a Best Paper Finalist at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation.
2. He interned at Air Force Research Laboratory
In 2007, Bry spent 4 months interning at the Air Force Research Laboratory. During his time with the organization, he researched flight test data to determine the efficiency of path planning. He also acted as a test pilot during autopilot tuning. From there, he spent 18 months as a robotics engineer at ROCONA where, among other things, he developed a fully autonomous robotic tractor.
3. He founded Skydio in 2014
After graduating from MIT, Bry landed a job as a software engineer at Google. But after 18 months with the technology giant, he was ready to go his own way. In 2014, he founded Skydio, a US-based drone manufacturer that's harnessed the power of breakthrough AI to emerge as a world leader in autonomous flight. In 2018, Skydio released its first drone, the R1. A year later, it released the smarter and more affordable Skydio 2. Last year, it launched its first drone for enterprise and military customers, the X2. Since its release, the X2 has made it to the final round of procurement in the army’s Short Range Reconnaissance Program. According to reports, Skydio is also working with at least one Police department in California. It now plans to tap further into the ever-growing market for enterprise products, while still working on developing its catalog of consumer-based products.
4. He's just raised $170 million
On March 1, 2021, it was announced that Skydio had raised $170 million in a Series D funding round. The round, which was led by Andreessen Horowitz’s Growth Fund, put's the company's total funding at $340 million and its valuation north of $1 billion. "This is an important milestone for us as a company, but also for the U.S. drone industry. Together with our customers, we’re proving that a U.S. company can lead the way in this industry through AI and autonomy. Things are already pretty exciting, but we are just scratching the surface of what autonomous drones can do," Bry said via skydio.com following the announcement.
5. He's the newest member of the Drone Advisory Committee
In January 2021, it was announced that Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao had appointed Bry to serve a two-year term on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Drone Advisory Committee (DAC). As suasnews.com writes, his appointment comes at a critical time for the industry as advancements in AI promise to make drones more accessible and valuable to enterprises and government agencies. “I’m honored to be appointed to the Drone Advisory Committee at this key juncture for the drone industry,” Bry said following the appointment. “There is a clear opportunity for the U.S. to lead the way in creating regulatory and policy frameworks for the safe deployment of these systems. I’m excited to serve on the committee to help make this a reality.”
6. His achievements haven't gone unnoticed
As Olin.edu writes, Bry's rapid rise to success hasn't gone unnoticed. Even before Skydio had released its first drone, Bry was already making enough ripples to bring him to the attention of several award bodies. In 2016, he was named to the MIT Technology Review’s 2016 edition of 35 Innovators under 35. A year later, he featured on Smithsonian’s 8 Innovators to watch in 2017.
7. He's always had a passion for aviation
Bry may only have been in the business of making drones for the last 6 years, but he's always had a passion for aviation. As a kid, he was a self-confessed 'radio-controlled airplane fanatic.' According to an interview he gave to wired.com in 2015, he put his passion to good use by competing in (and winning) numerous national aerial acrobatics competitions.
8. He thinks quality is more important than quantity
Building drones as a hobby might be something you can do in isolation. But you can't be the CEO of the nation's leading drone manufacturer and not network. Since its inception, Skydio has worked alongside numerous investors and partners to secure its rise to success. As its CEO, it's part and parcel of Bry's job description to manage those relationships. During an interview with olin.edu, Bry revealed that while networking isn't something that came naturally to him at first, he now sees it in a different light after shifting the emphasis from quantity to quality. “When I was at Olin I viewed networking as this artificial and uncomfortable thing that was important for success, but I would probably fail at," he shared. "The thing that I've come to understand is that the strength and depth of relationships are much more important than the number of them. In my experience networking isn't about networking events, it's about working alongside talented people for a long period of time and developing a high level of mutual respect along with a deep understanding of people's skillsets.”
9. He's got no plans to weaponize drones
Bry may have secured deals with the US Air Force, Army, and DEA, but he has no plans on becoming a weapon system provider. Speaking to The Verge about his aversion to working with companies that plan to weaponize drones or use them for surveillance, he said “We believe drones should be involved in emergency response situations, not active surveillance, and I think that’s a pretty clear line.” "You ship a product out there, you wash your hands of it... that’s not our approach,” he added.
10. He's a keen cyclist
Back in his MIT days, Bry was a keen cyclist. He even competed on the MIT Cycling Team. His college days may be behind him, but he still likes to hit the road whenever he gets the opportunity.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee