Cowden Technologies and other COgro members are thriving at the VTCRC
Original Article: https://www.vtcrc.com/news/cowdenfebruary2021/
COgro is providing a home to companies and entrepreneurs. Today, we have over 8,700 square feet of #SpaceWithPurpose to meet the growing needs of our members. From reserved to unreserved desks to office space. But what makes us more? It’s the invaluable partnerships, the industry connections and the resources we provide. It’s the #VTCRCexperience that provides opportunities for industry disruptors to grow and thrive.
We sat down with Mickey Cowden of Cowden Technologies, LLC, a member of COgro, to learn more about his company and how he is creating 10x impact in drone technology.
Like many other technological fields, drone software technology has been evolving for years. However, as we continue to progress into a tech-reliant society, companies and creators must find ways to produce user-friendly products that are both relevant and approachable. Mickey Cowden, owner of Cowden Technologies, is one creator who is developing drone technology and support software that is accessible, intuitive, and beneficial to current and future users of drone technology.
We asked Mickey if he thinks drone-related deployments in remote environments are becoming more popular, and if so, why now? “No, I don’t think it’s prominent here yet. The drone industry needs to build more public trust, especially among farmers, for it to become more commonly used. Personally, I think using drones would be beneficial to farmers for both livestock and crop monitoring, especially in Southwest Virginia, where agriculture is so prevalent. Once companies and farmers become more comfortable with drone technology, I can see it being used a lot more.”
Cowden Technologies received a year-long grant in June 2020 from Virginia’s Center for Innovation Technology. They are using the funds to create a product prototype of their smart docking station for drones concept (patent pending) to enable drone autonomy in remote areas. The company also placed third in the regional 2020 Gauntlet Business competition and put some of the prize money toward industrial 3D printing equipment.
Cowden Technologies recently received an invitation from the National Science Foundation to submit a Phase I proposal for the federal Small Business Innovation Research grant program. The proposed work consists of a comprehensive autonomy software framework for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The framework will feature an intuitive user interface that allows users to create custom mission profiles and monitor the drone during its mission. If Cowden Technologies is awarded a Phase I project grant, Lockheed Martin has agreed to actively monitor technical progress for the first phase. In the event of a Phase II award, Lockheed Martin intends to act as a technology transition partner by providing support via test, integration, and evaluation efforts towards validating the autonomy framework on potentially applicable Lockheed Martin platforms. Cowden Technologies believes that this work will allow drone technology to be more approachable and accessible, no matter how experienced an individual is with drone technology.
As far as what Mickey expects to see as a result of drone technology and robotics in remote, ground, and underwater applications, he says, “I can see drone technology saving people from working in hazardous conditions. For instance, powerline companies could set up a drone with our docking platform to monitor powerline conditions while working remotely.”
Mickey also stated about the research park, “The VTCRC is a staple in the community and region, and once I found my #SpaceWithPurpose at COgro, I knew it was the right place for my company and I didn’t look any further.”
How does Cowden Technologies look in the next five years? Mickey hopes to see controlled growth. Right now, there are no employees; it is just Mickey and a team of contractors and advisors. He wants to start building an in-house team for the company and continue to expand.
- To learn more about COgro, contact Andrea Hammond, Community Administrator.
- To learn more about space options at the VTCRC, contact Pat Morris, Real Estate Manager.
Written by: Becca Halm, Communications Intern