Advanced Navigation co-founder Xavier Orr retires as co-CEO

Advanced Navigation co-founder Xavier Orr retires as co-CEO

Advanced Navigation founders Xavier Orr (left) and Chris Shaw (right).

Xavier Orr, an entrepreneur whose university thesis would pave the way for deep technology to charter the unknown from the depths of the ocean to aerospace, has announced his retirement as co-CEO of Advanced Navigation.

The 38-year-old made the announcement on LinkedIn overnight that he would be stepping down from his leadership role at the company, which has raised $134 million to date and continues to invest heavily in scientific research across areas ranging from autonomous vehicles to photonic chip manufacturing.

According to records from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Orr has an approximately 23 per cent direct stake in Advanced Navigation. The company was founded in Perth where it has a Subsea Research Centre that was opened last year, but is now headquartered in Sydney.

"After nearly 13 years with Advanced Navigation, I have made the difficult decision to retire as Co-CEO. While it comes with a heavy heart, I will be taking time off to focus on a family health matter," Orr said.

"In 2012, Chris Shaw and I started the company from a garage in Subiaco, Western Australia. Between working the floor of our first tradeshow to being trusted by many of the world’s largest companies, it’s been an incredible journey."

Numerous research partnerships and deals have led the company to progressively increase the size of its team, with 72 per cent staff growth in FY23, a financial year that concluded with the Australian Space Agency awarding a $5.2 million grant to accelerate Advanced Navigation's development of breakthrough Light Detection, Altimetry and Velocimetry (LiDAV) technology.

The group will deliver a space-qualified LiDAV sensor called LUNA to Intuitive Machines in the US as part of a NASA program, with its technology expected to be on board a mission to the moon in 2025-26.

Advanced Navigation closed out the 2023 calendar year with another government grant, this one coming from the Australian Department of Defence to advance the nation’s domestic manufacturing capability for photonic chips with plans to manufacture 45,000 units annually.

The photonic chips are a component of Advanced Navigation's fibre-optic gyroscope (FOG) inertial navigation systems (INS).

The company claims it is just one of four globally that can make strategic-grade FOG components, and the only company in the world to develop a completely digital FOG (DFOG) - a technology that can empower reliable navigation for driverless vehicles, flying taxis, autonomous agriculture, and space travel.

Just a few months before securing the defence grant, Advanced Navigation also opened its high-tech robotics manufacturing facility based out of UTS Tech Lab in September, scaling up tenfold the manufacturing of AI navigation systems like its DFOG technology for GPS-denied environments.

Ed Husic, Federal Minister for Industry and Science, cutting the ribbon with the Advanced Navigation co-founders for the opening of a  high-tech robotics facility for autonomous systems at UTS Tech Lab in September 2023.
Ed Husic, Federal Minister for Industry and Science, cutting the ribbon with the Advanced Navigation co-founders for the opening of a  high-tech robotics facility for autonomous systems at UTS Tech Lab in September 2023.

 

Orr says that together with the whole Advanced Navigation team, which grew by 72 per cent in FY23 as the group signed more research partnerships and deals, memories were created that he will never forget.

"Today, our AI-based inertial navigation has progressed into several deep technology fields including underwater acoustics, photonics, robotics and quantum-enhanced sensing," he said.

"Our navigation technologies guide autonomous vehicles, aerial drones, marine vessels and our underwater drone is supporting high-res data gathering. 

"We will also be one of the first Australian companies to reach the moon."

Orr expressed "immense" pride of what he and Shaw have achieved together, adding his confidence in the company's bright future ahead. 

"Chris will continue to lead our talented team as CEO, guiding them toward even greater heights, while I remain dedicated to Advanced Navigation’s success and growth as a board director and advisor.

"To our remarkable team and valued stakeholders, thank you for your unwavering support during this time. 

"While I step back to focus on the health of my family, I look forward to contributing to the engineering community in the future."

Xavier Orr was named Sydney Young Entrepreneur of the Year alongside his co-founder Chris Shaw in 2022, within weeks of the announcement of a $108 million Series B raise led by KKR. He was also a recent Australia's Top 100 Young Entrepreneurs lister and was a captivating speaker at Business News Australia'sE2E (Entrepreneur-to-Entrepreneur) Summit in 2023

In a statement, Advanced Navigation said Orr's leadership and exceptional engineering had been pivotal in shaping the company’s cutting-edge technologies, while as an advisor his expertise would remain accessible to the group.

"He remains dedicated to Advanced Navigation’s trajectory on becoming a global leader in AI navigation and robotics," the company stated.

"From inertial and acoustic navigation to photonic and quantum sensing, Advanced Navigation solutions are trusted by many of the world’s largest companies.

"Co-founder Chris Shaw will continue to lead Advanced Navigation as CEO, ensuring its strategic vision is sustained. With a strong foundation in research and discovery, the company is committed to being a catalyst of the autonomy revolution, as it delivers transformative technologies to solve complex challenges earth-bound and beyond."

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