Brian Frutchey, chief technology officer for BigBear.ai, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz for the publication’s latest Executive Spotlight interview to discuss the official closing of the company’s merger with GigCapital4 and the greater capabilities its customers will gain access to in critical aspects like energy AI and other key areas.
In addition, Frutchey also discussed the development of SpaceCREST to develop the company’s cybersecurity and space capabilities as well as recent partnerships with Redwire, Palantir Technology and the potential impact the robotics industry will have on AI innovation across industry and the federal government in the years to come.
“Navigating the future with confidence is what BigBear.ai is all about. We provide the ability for customers to dominate their environment with a sense of certainty derived from real-world data. We don’t believe BigBear.ai’s technology should just be for our government customers. We want to provide that certainty to as much of the market as we can because it’s making the world a better place.”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with Brian Frutchey below:
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on the official closing of the merger with GigCapital4 to create BigBear.ai, Inc.! How will you maintain your momentum for your customers and offer greater capabilities to them in the areas of AI, maritime, energy, infrastructure and more?
“The merger with GigCapital4 was a tremendous opportunity for us because it allows BigBear.ai to quickly get the funding and the market attention to pivot from our history of solutions and solving the government’s problems to the commercial marketplace. That’s a leap that we didn’t take lightly. We are very focused on taking the inventions we’ve created in the trenches with the military to benefit more of the world.
Packaging the innovative things that our data scientists and engineers have been developing and improving in complex, mission critical situations as a software product allows us to have a much bigger impact than we can just by scaling through adding the people to the company.
I think that’s tremendous because we’ve created transformative capabilities that allow customers to have confidence in their decision making to see the future before it happens and understand how to achieve the outcomes that our customers want and need.
Navigating the future with confidence is what BigBear.ai is all about. We provide the ability for customers to dominate their environment with a sense of certainty derived from real-world data. We don’t believe BigBear.ai’s technology should just be for our government customers.
We want to provide that certainty to as much of the market as we can because it’s making the world a better place. That’s a compelling vision and one that means that we must execute quickly and aggressively to really make this transition and get ourselves in front of the enterprises.
GigCapital4 gives us the backing and ability to fund the staffing of our commercial teams and extend our products to make them more easily consumable. It is working, and we’ve received a significant amount of inbound interest from some key markets.
Applications which are related to what we’re doing in the federal space, such as facility security monitoring and analysis, logistics analysis and route optimization, and providing competitive intelligence were our initial focus areas.
We’re finding significant interest for factory schedule and inventory optimization as well as supporting commercial space operations optimization. BigBear.ai is really excited about the ability to optimize the collection and exploitation of data from taskable sensors.
For example, how do you ensure that you’re scheduling the right assets at the right time to cover a problem? We can even use our cyber vulnerability analysis capabilities to test the security of satellite constellations before launch.”
ExecutiveBiz: With BigBear.ai working on the development of space and cybersecurity range capabilities (SpaceCREST), how will the recent partnership with Redwire support cyber resiliency of space assets and U.S. critical infrastructure as that market continues to rapidly advance today?
“As we talk about Redwire, let’s also take note of all our partnerships. One of the things that BigBear.ai has been so fortunate to have over the years is strong partners – Qlik, KNIME, AWS, and Appian are a few.
BigBear.ai has a history of digging into our partners’ technologies and extending them to tackle some hard problems. Our SpaceCREST lab, which is a joint activity between us and Redwire, is a tremendous example of this.
Together, we’re validating new kinds of simulation capabilities that are very meaningful to our space customers. BigBear.ai has such a background in cyber vulnerability and analysis exploitation.
With SpaceCREST, we are working to provide a standard way to go and look at the firmware, control systems, and communication protocols across a satellite constellation for vulnerabilities with hardware in the loop simulations.
This allows us to vet the cyber vulnerabilities of these constellations before you launch them – which is surprisingly important because once you put the thing up in space, it’s really hard to do any servicing on it.
Our partner and customer, Virgin Orbit, is taking advantage of SpaceCREST to demonstrate the importance of their rapid launch capability. Planning for degradation of space-based capabilities and their rapid reconstitution isn’t something you can start doing after problems occur, because the ground preparation tasks can’t be compressed.
I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert in the space industry by any stretch, which is exactly why we work with good partners like Redwire and Virgin Orbit.”
ExecutiveBiz: Can you talk about the recent commercial partnership with Palantir Technology to expand your offerings to improve enterprise operating systems capabilities for your customers in the federal and commercial sectors? How will it drive BigBear.ai, Inc into new growth markets?
“We’re really excited about our partnership with Palantir. One of the key things that BigBear.ai has made as a part of our ethos and company culture is that we don’t have to be the best at everything needed to provide decision support automation.
We want to provide end-to-end solutions to reduce time to value, but we focus on the differentiated AI producing advice and plug in customer and partner capabilities in place of our own for things like data processing or user interfaces when that makes sense.
We build everything so it’s modular and we can wrap it around other third parties for the best of breed capabilities or investments that our customers may already have themselves. I think that allows us to really focus on places where our differentiation matters and not trying to reinvent the wheel.
When it comes to Palantir, they have tremendous data and processing fabric. The company does an awesome job managing the lineage of data as it goes through transformation steps, then cataloging and materializing the transformations to expose the resulting data in an interactive way.
Palantir Foundry is terrific as a data and processing fabric. Why should we try to spread our own investments to outdo something that Palantir already does so well? For BigBear.ai, we can plug into any data fabric that’s out there, so why not use Palantir’s best of breed data fabric, gaining us access to their install base where they’re already tackling problems with complex and large amounts of data?
If we’re going to help that install base predict behaviors and optimize for outcomes, it makes sense that we should be able to deploy as plugins to Palantir’s customers – and vice versa.”
ExecutiveBiz: With the robotics industry expected to advance dramatically in the coming five years, what can you tell us about the impact the robotics market will have on AI innovation for federal agencies and across industry?
“Areas like robotics and autonomous control systems are areas of great business opportunity because you have a lot of people already building self-driving cars or drones. It’s a growing industry creating automated agents making decisions. This is great for BigBear.ai, because you can think of what we are developing as a new class of decision agent.
Generally, autonomous agents are working within a goal structure that comes from an external source. You must give the technology an explicit instruction – for example, ‘Take me to this exact grocery store.’
BigBear.ai is working on allowing the objective to be more goal oriented. For example, ‘Take me to where I can be back from getting groceries before my next meeting,’ and the AI will then identify the best course of action and execute it.
This kind of AI needs to be much more interactive, able to educate the user on the pros and cons of various courses of action. That’s where I believe autonomous control systems are headed and BigBear.ai is focused on how we build those capabilities. I think it’s really exciting because it allows us to think about spreading the power of good data-driven decision making throughout our world.
We’ve discussed control systems and our work with guide control systems to improve their outcome-based decision-making process, but that’s only one aspect of the conversation. BigBear.ai has also been involved with robotics for our manufacturing customers.
We have seen robotics doing more and more in terms of automation on factory floors and within supply chains. In those manufacturing processes, more automation doesn’t excuse factory operators from needing to plan for and schedule things like maintenance and ensuring that you have available inventory.
It’s about being a lot more diligent because the speed of automation and innovation exacerbates challenges. Using analytics to optimize scheduling of work and part ordering for the factory floor is something BigBear.ai brings to the table.
Those are just some of the areas where our kind of AI is incredibly valuable in robotics right now. We are not controlling the robots themselves; that’s left to the vendors who produced the robots. Having said that, we’re absolutely focused on being able to provide that layer of intelligence on top of the combined use of these robots now and in the future.”