Gadgets

More drone envy: Former Wired editor’s 3D Robotics adds $6M for commercial drones

Above: Iris Drone from 3D Robotics

Image Credit: 3D Robotics

The rise of the drones continues this week, as 3D Robotics is announcing today that it has raised $6 million in funding from venture capital firm Mayfield. The money will help commercialize drones from the startup created by Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired magazine.

3D Robotics' 3DR X8 for heavy payloads.

Above: 3D Robotics’ 3DR X8 for heavy payloads.

Image Credit: 3D Robotics

The investment is part of a $30 million round that was announced in September, but this is the first announcement of Mayfield’s role. 3D Robotics is making unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for use in commercial applications. The announcement follows news that Amazon is experimenting with using drones to deliver its goods to houses that are near its warehouses and that UPS has been investigating delivery drones as well.

Mayfield said in a statement that the deal reflects its belief in the “maker movement” that is moving from an engineering hobby to a mainstream business, as seen with the rise of connected devices, 3D printing, and the popularity of Maker Faire events around the world.

“3D Robotics is the poster child for how the Maker Movement is spawning massive new industries, starting from open-source hobbyist community DIY drones, and now evolving into a commercial-grade platform that will disrupt many different markets,” said Tim Chang, Mayfield managing director. “We’re thrilled to be working with Chris and the team and to have a ringside seat at the birth of this exciting new wave.”

Chris Anderson talking about drones at Defcon in 2012.

Above: Chris Anderson talking about drones at Defcon in 2012.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Mayfield has made 11 investments this year, with four that haven’t been announced. Anderson is betting that the Federal Aviation Administration will weigh in favorably on allowing the use of small drones for commercial purposes, but the agency hasn’t said so yet.

“Tim Chang’s enthusiasm and track record with a new era of hardware companies that act more like software companies (combining advanced code with the extraordinary hardware advancements spinning off the smartphone industry) lined up perfectly with our own vision,” said 3DR’s Anderson. “He gets that ‘atoms are the new bits’ like few others, and Mayfield’s history in companies that change the world was a great match for our ambitions.”

So, in answer to my fellow staffer John Koetsier, yes, this means we will continue to drone on about drones.

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