A Deeper Look: Coolest Thing Made in Idaho Winners Black Sage Technologies

Back in 2019, nearly 80,000 people piled into Albertson’s Stadium in Boise to see Garth Brooks perform. The highly-anticipated show brought people from Boise and beyond. Few of those attendees, if any, were paying attention to the sky above them. But someone was: Black Sage. 

“We’re a company that protects people and critical infrastructure from unmanned system threats,” said Trent Morrow, Chief Strategy Officer at Black Sage.

Boise-based Black Sage provides solutions for airports, military agencies, and internal security agencies around the world to counter unmanned aircraft systems. Simply put, Black Sage keeps drones out of places they shouldn’t be, like large-scale events, concerts, sporting events, airports, and military bases.

Black Sage is able to offer such impressive security solutions with Sawtooth, a modular hardware platform that detects, identifies, and defeats drones. Sawtooth feeds DefenseOS, Black Sage’s open architecture command and control software. The setup allows customers to create custom-built solutions unique to each situation, organization, location, and mission.

Black Sage employees were able to gather briefly for the reception of their award. From left to right: Nathan House (Mechanical Engineer), Willy Weston (Systems Architect), Daniel Meyer (Production Lead), and Jason Cain (Quality Assurance Analyst II).

“DefenseOS is like the brain box. It determines if the object on the screen is a drone or not. And if it is, if it’s a threat or not,” explained Morrow. “If it is deemed a threat, it makes the recommendation of what you should do about it. Do you watch it? Do you perform some mitigation capability against it? Or do you ignore it? Sawtooth is the enabler out there. It’s what performs all those functions.”

Sawtooth uses sensors, radars, radio frequencies, and infrared imagers to detect and identify drones. If deemed a threat, it can deploy lasers and precision jammers to defeat a nefarious drone. The innovative solution has led Black Sage to work with customers like Boise State University, the United States Air Force and Incheon International Airport in South Korea.

Founded by Ross Lamm and Dave Romero, the original focus behind Black Sage was a much different issue: car accidents with animals. Lamm and Romero wanted to reduce nighttime car accidents involving animals, particularly on rural roadways like we have in so many parts of Idaho. They created a system that could detect animals on the road out ahead of the vehicle, distinguish the detected object from non-threatening objects such as a road sign or tree, and alert the driver of potential danger ahead.

As the drone industry took off, Black Sage shifted their sights from the road toward the sky. Militaries and defense organizations are utilizing them more than ever before and on the commercial side, just about anyone can get their hands on a drone. In 2019, there was nearly 1.3 million drones registered with the FAA and an estimated 116,000 operators in the U.S.

Sheri Johnson, IMA Executive Director, presented the personalized trophy (made by Refinerii) to a group of Black Sage employees.

Though technology is evolving at a rapid pace, Black Sage is positioned to keep up. Both Sawtooth and DefenseOS are designed for customization. Sawtooth is a modular hardware platform, meaning its essentially the baseline configuration for creating an unmanned system defense. Customers can completely configure Sawtooth with components to fit their unique needs and Black Sage can continue innovating new components to address ever-changing needs and technologies.

Named after one of the coolest places in Idaho – the Sawtooth Mountains – Black Sage’s cutting-edge technology earned Sawtooth the winner of IMA’s first ever “Coolest Thing Made in Idaho” contest.

“The coolest thing about Sawtooth is that it keeps people safe,” said Morrow. “It’s a silent protector. And it’s doing it all over the world.”

Congratulations again to the winners of the Coolest Thing Made in Idaho 2020, Black Sage Technologies. Learn more about Black Sage and what they’re up to at blacksagetech.com.

Stay tuned in 2021 for announcements about the next Coolest Thing Made in Idaho Contest, and check out our 2020 nominees here.

The Coolest Thing Made in Idaho virtual contest was sponsored by Idaho Power. Learn more about Idaho Power and their goal to provide 100% clean energy by 2045 at their website.