Drone systems startup Airware just snagged $25 million to launch a cloud operating system for drones networks.
The company’s aerial OS allows autonomous commercial drones to legally collect, analyze, and distribute data within its platform. Basically it’s infrastructure in a box. What it does is create a cloud-based network where all your drone applications live and connects them to whatever hardware components you want.
Let’s say you sell a drone that surveys an area and maps it. Airware would be where your mapping application lives. Maybe you also want to incorporate photos of the area into your map, a la Google Earth. You would use Airware’s dashboard to connect your camera to the system and configure the photo data into your maps application.
“Commercial drones are creating a revolution in insights, and countless industries around the world will soon benefit from access to aerial information that, until now, has been too difficult, dangerous, expensive, or downright impossible to get,” said Airware CEO Jonathan Downey in a press release.
There is a certain barrier to entry for drone companies and drone initiatives, as Downey said, so it is likely we’ll see a lot more companies like Airware entering the market to help projects like Amazon’s promised drone services take flight. As it stands now, a lot of companies are building their own infrastructure from the ground up internally. Airware could help more companies enter the growing drone market more quickly — and in compliance with drone regulations.
The company is very interested in keeping in step with FAA drone regulations, because the companies it works with will need to be able to fly drones without fear of interception. For example, in the last year the company has worked with drone makers Delta Drone and Cyber Technology as well as researchers at MIT to test a vaccine and medicine delivery system — something that is time sensitive.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) led the round; Andreessen Horowitz and First Round Capital also participated.
The funding will be used to bring the technology to market later this year and to grow Airware’s engineering, sales, marketing, and customer support teams.