Even our Halloween parties have themes, and this one was Death of Perception. And it’s where I finally met my doppelgänger.

I moved here without friends, money, a job. And for a year I clawed my way around this place, until the heavens opened and out came what I’d been drawn here looking for but had only sensed at the periphery: my people, my community. The one that throws elaborately themed parties and events with ‘curated experiences’ and ‘experimental spaces;’ where every party is a costume party.

When I first got into these communities or friend groups or postcapitalist temporary…

‘Your skin is glowing,’ they say, like porcelain when I’m a child, when I’m so depressed I’m sure I can’t breathe, when I had surgery that morning. ‘You’d never be able to tell,’ my friend says, appreciatively.

‘You were a real puker as a kid,’ my mom says.

I don’t remember. I remember crying, crying so hard I couldn’t talk, my anger etched into myself as the grown ups just looked on, shrugged.

I pushed it down, my face became smooth to match, like an egg I tell myself sitting across, sitting across my lying boss, my yelling partner, national…

Meet Casia, our Detect and Avoid system for BVLOS operations

May 2019 marked one of the hugest accomplishments in Iris Automation’s history to date — launching Casia, the product we’ve been working towards since our inception.

Casia is the first commercially available computer vision detect-and-avoid solution to enable Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations for autonomous vehicles and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), to truly understand the aviation environment around it as if a pilot were on board.

We launched just in time for AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2019, the largest drone trade show in the world. In the weeks leading up…

Cheryl Contreras gives us a look into a typical day of field testing as the Deputy Head of Flight Operations at Iris Automation

Helicopter ride home after a day of testing.

I’ve worked at Iris for a year and a half, starting as a Flight Operations Technician and moving into a role as Deputy Head of Flight Operations. To give a little insight into what that means, here’s an account of a Field Test mission that’s a pretty typical example of my summertime routine. — Cheryl

4:15am Wake up and go to the gym. It’s still dark out, but I enjoy how quiet the gym is, and going before work gives me energy for the rest of the day.

5:15am Get back home and prepare for work, putting on clothes that…

Defining Our Values at Iris Automation

From the Iris Culturebook, 2019.

Finalizing our company values and building them into our culture is the work I’m most proud to have taken on during my time at Iris and has formed the bridge between my personal and professional lives. Values are integral to any organization, but not inevitable — they take intention, revisiting, and critical assessments of what we do and why. Today I want to share my role in this process at Iris.

Aligning our values

During my initial phone interview, CEO Alex Harmsen asked about a project I had listed on my resume — community-building with a group of formerly incarcerated citizens via the…

Iris Co-founders Alexander Harmsen and James Howard open up about D&I

Iris team retreat, September 2018

What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?

Alex Harmsen: To me, the single largest contribution from diversity is creative thought. Very simply, without diversity in thought, experience, culture, and background, the company would stagnate — we just wouldn’t be able to achieve our vision.

James Howard: Diversity and inclusion is a way to break out of the pattern of your own cultures, traditions, experiences, and thoughts and discover new and exciting paths forward that would never have been considered otherwise. I’m always excited to find myself in a situation where I realize that I’m considering a new idea or…

We’re on a mission to unlock your drones.

Visualization of casia, Iris Automation’s Collision Avoidance system.

Goldman Sachs forecasts a $100 billion market opportunity for drones by 2020, primarily stemming from the commercial sector.¹

But that won’t happen without the ability to fly drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).

What’s needed is two-pronged: Collision Avoidance technology that will enable drones to fly BVLOS safely where human observation is difficult or impossible and regulations allowing drone pilots to fly BVLOS, which is currently not permitted without special permissions in most parts of the world.

Entire industries are waiting to be unlocked — search and rescue, package delivery, precision agriculture, pipeline and infrastructure inspection, mining, and many…

Taryn, you were weird.

In first grade you tied the ties on the back of your little girl summer dress to the narrow part of your desk chair and the janitor had to cut them off to free you as you started to have an anxiety attack.

Taryn, your father owned a candy store but it was in a different town, so it wasn’t as cool as it might’ve been. I’ve still never been there.

Taryn, in second grade after recess sometimes you thought there were bees in your bright orange hair. …

(if you hate reading, you can listen to this short story here.)

The sand is warm and I dig my toes in to take pressure off my heels. Their dull ache is pulsing stronger as the Vicodin wears off. I’ve timed my doses so I don’t run out, and the next one isn’t for an hour.

Amy is laying on a towel next to me. “Are you coming in with me today?” I ask, squinting through the sun just falling from its apex.

She shakes her head. “I showered yesterday, remember?”

I sigh and take off my glasses and sunglasses…

my backpack

I have a dirty old backpack with broken zippers and a strap that I sewed back on years ago. I’m embarrassed by my backpack. I take my backpack to work even though it’s unprofessional. I shove it under my desk as soon as I get there. I walk out of the office backwards, under the guise of waving goodbye. Every day I tell myself to just buy another goddamn backpack. But then I don’t.

Yesterday I decided it was the day I just pull the trigger and buy a new backpack. I went home and Googled “backpack.” I was immediately…

Stephanie Lacy-Price

community & storytelling

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