Written by Seamus Kelleher.
Sometimes, technology is developed to address a specific need. Sometimes, it’s created and a need is realized that wasn’t initially intended. That was the case for Event 38 Unmanned Systems in Akron, Ohio, which applies advanced drone technologies to improve surveying, mining, agriculture and environmental conservation efforts.
Unmanned aircraft systems have taken off in popularity over the last decade. While they’re perhaps most known for their military capabilities, their use in retail logistics efforts or for capturing the perfect personal photo at home, Event 38’s drones collect data using advanced sensor technology and then analyze it to derive insights about the Earth below.
“The real hype has been around the consumer drone, the ones you can find at the mall or online for personal use,” said Jeff Taylor, founder and CEO of Event 38. “People use them to take selfies or to fly recreationally which is all fun, but we’ve always considered the most important work to be applying their capabilities to further industry. We use drone imagery to make maps and gather data, such as a soil’s makeup, to influence decisions in existing industries.”
Event 38 designs and manufactures drones, specialized optical sensors, and their patented Drone Data Management System, built to analyze and report the large sets of data the drones and sensors collect in-flight. The Akron company’s unmanned aircraft fly autonomously from takeoff to landing, collecting imaging with advanced sensors and, given their ability to fly lower than traditional mapping techniques of airplanes, don’t have to worry about cloud cover. Event 38’s drones have been used in over 50 countries and have worked on everything from crop research to mapping glacial flows to delivering antivenom to remote towns in the Amazon basin.
Taylor received his undergraduate degree in 2009 from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he studied Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. He got his first experience working on drones during a senior project called DIY Drones, a project focused on creating open source autopilots. That project stuck with Taylor, and he’s been making drones ever since. He went on to work at SpaceX in Los Angeles following graduation, and stayed in California to head up research and development for 3D Robotics. Taylor continued building drones out of his apartment, and he eventually returned to Ohio to start a company centered around his passion.
Event 38 received a $25,000 award from the GLIDE Innovation Fund, a northeast Ohio regional partner of Ohio Third Frontier, in 2014. Taylor says this funding enabled them to develop the secondary technology they offer customers, such as the web service and analytics platform. Event 38 is housed in the historic BF Goodrich building in Downtown Akron, the same building occupied by the Akron Global Business Accelerator.
Event 38 plans to refine and enhance their data analyses software, developed in-house and currently in beta mode, to provide detailed and impactful insights. These insights are vital, as they influence customer decisions such as how much and where to apply pesticide on crops. Taylor didn’t grow up with an agricultural background, but he’s helped farmers throughout the state and is happy to call Ohio home again.
“I’ve gone back and forth between Ohio and California my entire life. I wasn’t sure where the best place for Event 38 would be initially, but it’s here in Ohio,” said Taylor. “I grew up and went to school here, but beyond all that, the sense of community is strong. People want to help you take your ideas and make something out of them. I’m grateful for all the support we’ve received here and I’m happy I landed back in Akron.”