Scanning the horizon with FalconViz

KAUST alumnus Luca Passone (Ph.D. '18, M.S. '11) combined his two hobbies—drones and photography—with the talents of other researchers on campus to co-create 3D surveying and mapping startup FalconViz. File photo.
-By David Murphy, KAUST News

KAUST alumnus Luca Passone (Ph.D. '18, M.S. '11) is part traditional researcher and part horizon-scanning entrepreneur. As the chief technology officer and a co-founder of FalconViz, one of the University's homegrown startups, Passone and his colleagues conduct 3D surveying and mapping using unmanned aerial systems (UAS) with autonomous integration of planes, copters and 3D software solutions. The startup—which was established in 2015 by Passone and co-founders Anas DahlawiNeil Smith and Mohamed Shalaby—is a leading example of the state-of-art technology and ideas originating from the University.

A FalconViz drone sits on the ground before deployment at a surveying site. Image courtesy of FalconViz.

From an academic journey and hobby to a career

Passone joined KAUST in 2009 as a founding class member to pursue his goal of working with supercomputers. During his nine-year academic journey at the University, he sought to understand the physics behind supercomputers; he digitally simulated earthquakes in a quest to predict ground motions caused from different types of rupture patterns; and most recently, he joined forces with researchers from the KAUST Visual Computing Center to take their work out of the lab and into real-world situations.

At present, Passone and his FalconViz colleagues offer a wealth of services to companies and institutions in the Kingdom and beyond, including topographical surveys, mining and aggregate assessments and flood modeling and analysis, among others.

KAUST alumnus and FalconViz co-founder Luca Passone (first on right) is pictured with the startup's co-founders (from left to right) Anas Dahlawi, Neil Smith and Mohamed Shalaby. Photo courtesy of the KAUST Visual Computing Center.

In a recent interview with KAUST News, Passone talked about FalconViz's origins and the crucial role the University played in its creation. He also outlined the company's technology and future vision for its work.

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