PDR Completed

October 13, 2023
Palo Alto, CA

Array Labs is developing radar satellite clusters for the first real-time, high-quality 3D Earth model, enhancing affordable 3D data use in AR/XR, defense, climate, and insurance.

Welcome to another update from the team at Array, where we’ve had another busy few weeks. 

Since last we spoke, the company was featured in a deep-dive by the kind folks at Not Boring, the radar team succeeded in completing 3D radar scans of extended objects (cars and trucks), our formation flight team passed a critical coating test with flying colors, and our interview team is dealing with an unprecedented surge in applications. 

While each of these milestones are incredibly important in their own right, we're incredibly excited to mention our last major milestone: completing the Preliminary Design Review for our new satellite constellation.  

In case you missed it, we recapped the aforementioned progress in our first two field notes: 

  1. The Road to Radar
  2. Unveiling our 3D MVP

Rather than looking solely through the rear-view mirror—as we did in our prior updates—today, we’ll also provide a glimpse into our plans for the future. 

3D Radar Testbed

There is nothing better to capture Array Labs’ execution velocity than a visualization of the inception-to-current state timeline of our 3D Radar Testbed. As you can see, we went from a bare metal frame to a multi-static radar testbed capable of producing 3D imagery in approximately 100 days!

In our August update, you saw the first 3D image from our radar test range: a coarse point cloud showing corner reflectors. Since then, we've made strides imaging real objects, as you can see from these recent 3D captures of cars: 

Figure 1: A 3D Mesh created from the point cloud obtained from our 3D radar
Figure 2: The raw point cloud obtained from our 3D radar

We’ll continue refining critical parts of our radar processing pipeline, like the Array Labs autofocus algorithm. Stay tuned for higher-res captures in the months to come! 

PDRs & Launch Plans

An important step for any company that builds complex hardware, involving multiple fields of engineering, is the preliminary design review (or PDR, for short). 

The PDR serves as a technical assessment that provides teams with sufficient confidence to take the next step. In this review, engineers probe whether their design can meet mission requirements within cost, schedule, and risk constraints. The PDR typically covers the high-level architecture of hardware and software components, while also providing a preliminary schedule and the critical engineering milestones.

We’re pleased to report that Array Labs completed PDR this past Friday, Sept 29 2023 at 7pm Pacific. 

Below, you can see a few teasers of the high-level architecture discussed during Array Labs’ PDR:

The PDR enabled us to select the optimal architecture, make accurate schedule estimates, and develop a launch roadmap. Our roadmap iteratively reduces technical and operational risks leading up to Cluster #1 deployment in 2026, as shown below:

Finally, we have started running some orbital simulations to best determine our requirements for full-feature formation flying. More updates to come, but until then, enjoy this cool graphic:

On Hiring…

The PDR enabled Array Labs to map out an engineering hiring plan tied to upcoming milestones. We have a very granular understanding of who we need to hire, when we need to onboard them, and how much it will cost to meet milestones and model out better burn projections. 

We identified an immediate need for 14 engineers that have to be hired over the next 9 months to achieve our goal of a 2026 cluster launch. Open roles span:

  • FPGA Design
  • Embedded SW
  • Hardware Design (Board/Electrical Design)
  • Guidance, Navigation & Controls
  • 3D Image Reconstruction
  • Power Management
  • Power Amplifier Design

To encourage engineers of all seniority levels to apply, we recently opened 20 different roles with varying minimum requirements. To be specific, the 20 postings went live on our website at midnight on Sept 26. We chose this date to coincide with the release of the Not Boring analysis of Array Labs, which went live six hours later. 

We expected the article to grow our pipeline, and boy did it deliver. 

The combination of more general-purpose roles and Packy's article has exceeded expectations: Array Labs received a total of 147 applications in about one week (Sept 26-Oct 3). 

The following graphic depicts our organic recruiting efforts. In June and July, we were averaging ~20 applicants/week, with a minor boost from some LinkedIn advertising spend. The benefits of building in public show a dramatic ramp in inbound interest around our TechCrunch and Not Boring articles:

If you know of someone who sounds like they’d be the perfect fit for Array Labs, please do put us in touch. We’ve got a cluster to launch!