Today, we’re excited to announce the next step in AirMap’s growth story: our Series B funding round. The $26 million round brings an exciting group of new partners to the AirMap family: Microsoft Ventures, Airbus Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Rakuten, Sony, and Yuneec.
As we celebrate this milestone and welcome our new partners to AirMap’s community of drone manufacturers, developers, operators, and airspace managers, we’re also reflecting on how much our burgeoning industry has matured since we founded AirMap two years ago. Innovation in the drone industry continues to accelerate: drones are becoming more efficient, more autonomous, and more accessible. Regulatory changes unfolding across the globe – such as Part 107 in the United States – have enabled commercial operators to take flight. AirMap is part of a growing drone economy that is already creating billions in economic impact.
Drones are proving their value today, but this is just the beginning. People will soon benefit from the magic of flight in their everyday lives when drone flight is high-scale, low-cost, and highly reliable. Drones must be able to fly safe, efficient routes, react and adapt to changes in their flight environment in real time, and exchange critical information with others in the airspace. We know the future will bring a thinking, autonomous drone – which is why AirMap is building a platform that not only serves the drones of today, but also paves the way for the more sophisticated drones of tomorrow.
How do we achieve more autonomy for drones? By helping them sense, understand, and communicate with the world around them. Because they can fly between buildings and in busy urban corridors, drones need incredibly detailed data about their flight environment – information like microscale, hyperlocal weather; real-time data about manned and unmanned air traffic, wildfires and first responder activities, parades, and community gatherings; and locations of buildings, powerlines and other obstacles in the built environment.
When we pair this airspace intelligence, provided by AirMap, with new advances in wireless connectivity and innovations in drone hardware, we will significantly accelerate widespread adoption of drone-enabled services. When drones can be tasked with the push of a button, safe routes can be calculated in fractions of a second, and changing conditions can be communicated to drones in real time, we’ll see millions of drones fly billions of flights and contribute to practically every sector of our economy.
As the drone industry has grown, AirMap has thrived. Today, our platform powers millions of drones, supports more than 100,000 drone flights per day, and empowers more than 300 drone manufacturers and industry developers with the world’s most accurate, dynamic airspace intelligence – a testament to the contributions of our awesome AirMap team. We’ve worked to open more airspace to drones and to make the skies safer for all, launching the AirMap developer portal, which made our library of APIs and SDKs available to industry innovators, and the Digital Notice and Awareness System, which is used by more than 125 airports to accept digital flight notices, view past and current drone flights, and communicate with drone operators.
Our Series B round marks the beginning of the next chapter for AirMap. We’re looking forward to quickly bringing AirMap’s airspace management platform and solutions for cybersecurity, geofencing, Unmanned aircraft Traffic Management (UTM), and more to new markets worldwide. As we expand globally, we’re opening offices in Berlin, Germany, and at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Our team, our platform, and our community of partners will continue to grow.
We see tremendous opportunities on the horizon for the entire drone ecosystem. In the U.S., we’ll soon see rules for drone flight over people and beyond visual line of sight. The participants of the NASA-FAA Research Transition Team – including AirMap – will test UTM technologies in 2017 that will help drones become part of the world’s busiest airspace system, while UTM initiatives worldwide will catalyze rapid growth for the drone economy. Across hardware, software, and services, the drone industry is taking off.
Whatever future you can imagine for drones – from package delivery to flying cars – we are confident that the drone industry has the potential to surpass even the most bullish predictions. As regulations evolve, as technology improves, and as drones benefit our lives in ways we can’t imagine today – we at AirMap are singularly focused on ensuring that the future of drones is safe, connected, and collaborative.
We’re proud to welcome Microsoft Ventures, Airbus Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Rakuten, Sony, and Yuneec to the AirMap family, and we’re honored that existing investors General Catalyst and Lux Capital are also participating in our Series B round. To everyone in the AirMap community, thank you for your support and partnership.
Already, we’ve accomplished so much. And together, we’ll reach new heights.
Ben Marcus is cofounder & CEO of AirMap and the industry co-chair of the Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team. Gregory S. McNeal is cofounder of AirMap, an expert on drone technology, law and policy, and a tenured Professor of Law and Public Policy at Pepperdine University.