Xelevate was created in July 2020 to enhance American innovation in the commercial drone training and operation realm. Its Leesburg-based facility opened its doors about a year later.
Marcy Eisenberg and Andrew Biechlin, a married couple who previously spearheaded a national security firm as its president and senior vice president, respectively, launched Xelevate as an homage to national security aviation.
“Xelevate is a location where everybody can come together and test, demonstrate, innovate, hold conferences and symposiums, and just be together [to] help push the synergies forward for this entire community,” says Eisenberg, who now serves as Xelevate’s president.
Unmanned aerial vehicles are not just for recreational or military purposes.
“Drones are being used for ferrying organs, vaccines, [to] deliver goods,” Eisenberg says. “[They’re] helping in so many ways that nobody is really aware of yet. It is a game-changing technology.”
Drone technology is being employed everywhere. It has simplified power-line inspection by utility corporations, as well as roof and structural integrity checks by insurance companies. It’s afforded real estate agents the flexibility to share visuals of overhead vantage points of a property with prospective buyers. Drones have become key factors in reforestation efforts in the wake of devastating wildfires. They even help farmers find invasive pests or, thanks to thermal imaging attachments, determine which plants need more moisture.
“All of these things in the past that were dangerous can now be done smartly, efficiently, and at pennies on the dollar,” Eisenberg says. “Farmers that do use drones have seen their profits just balloon, and that is very indicative of a whole host of different industries out there. We are seeing new uses for them every day.”
Xelevate offers a safe location for companies — delivery services, protective agencies, government, military, and academia — to test the technology before deploying it in the work space.
Eisenberg likens the testing process to an individual practicing driving techniques in a parking lot ahead of testing for a license.
“There is that safe space here, where people can come learn, get some of that muscle memory, understand the principles, understand how it feels to be operating these birds, and be successful in doing it,” she says.
When considering a base of operations for Xelevate, Eisenberg says proximity to Washington was a priority.
“We needed to have a place where everybody in the industry, and then all these other ancillary early adopters in other industries, can come out and actually see the benefits of drones,” she says.
The company’s location affords policymakers or government officials the opportunity to confirm whether the tech falls within approved guidelines.
The general public is allowed to visit Xelevate on select days.
Two-hour drone immersion courses, which include flight lessons on various drone models, can be enjoyed in a safe environment.
Eisenberg and Biechlin also plan on increasing community engagement through hosting recreational events, which the company will share on social media. The company is in the process of building several structures to host events, the largest of which will be a barn-style structure.
This story originally ran in our September issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.