Auterion has raised $10 million in funding for its open source commercial drone operating system and launched its drone OS today as an enterprise version of the PX4 open source standard.
The Zurich, Switzerland-based company will use the money to scale its operations and speed up development of its platform.
The funding comes from Lakestar, Mosaic Ventures, Costanoa Ventures, and Tectonic Ventures. Auterion will continue to work in close alignment with the PX4 community, the most widely used open source drone autopilot software, to bring the technology to the enterprise.
Drones and autonomous robots are being used by enterprises for survey and mapping, asset inspection, search and rescue, public safety, and agriculture. Investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts market demand for commercial drone products and services will grow to $13 billion by 2020.
But drones lack a common operating system. This leads to complications with interoperability between drones and services and makes compliance with drone safety regulations and cybersecurity more complicated, which is why Auterion built its software.
“Autonomy will change the status quo and enable use cases that are unthinkable today, unlocking the next level of value,” said Auterion cofounder Kevin Satori, in a statement. “Our technology scales from drones to any other autonomous system, such as self driving delivery rovers.“
To help fuel its growth, Auterion now offers an enterprise operating system that sits on top of PX4 to enable safe, cyber-secure, and compliant operations. By leveraging open source standards, Auterion maximizes interoperability and future-proofs the investment of its customers.
To enable the highest possible levels of integration between products, Auterion works in close collaboration with other Dronecode members, including 3D Robotics, AirMap, ARM, Intel, NXP, Sony, STMicroelectronics, and Trimble.
In an email, Satori said:
We have been on the same mission for a decade. Everything started in 2008 at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) when Lorenz Meier and his team developed the first version of the autopilot. Lorenz decided to open-source the software (PX4) and the hardware (Pixhawk) to allow collaboration between universities, companies, and the developer community. Since then, the open source projects developed into the most widely used standards in the drone industry and are today used by a large number of drone companies. Auterion was born from the success of the PX4 ecosystem. It makes open source accessible to the enterprise and offers a tested and long-time supported operating system for drones built on top of PX4. Auterion aims to bring the level of professionalism to the drone industry that Red Hat brought to Linux.
Auterion is the largest contributor to the PX4 ecosystem and will continue to invest into the open source community.
“There are important challenges that today’s market leader will encounter as they attempt to meet the diverse needs of the global drone marketplace,” said Ray Johnson, former chief technology officer of Lockheed Martin, in a statement. “Auterion, with its open software platform, is well positioned to dynamically respond to the wide range of solutions required for commercial and defense applications.”
Auterion’s operating system enables manufacturers to build their products on global and safe standards using common infrastructure so that they can focus on their core differentiation and save time and resources when bringing new products to market. Likewise, component, software, module, and service vendors are empowered to rapidly create unique and competitive solutions, secure in the knowledge that a compatible ecosystem allows developers to integrate their products.
Similarly, the Auterion cloud enables drone service providers to fly with confidence, monitor devices, and support a diverse range of drones and drone technologies for mission critical applications. Drone operations go from manual ad-hoc processes to operations at scale.
“Every successful open source ecosystem needs enterprise software vendors to make the work of the community accessible to the industry,” said Chris Anderson, CEO of drone maker 3D Robotics, in a statement. “The creation of Auterion shows that the Dronecode Project is mature and PX4 is ready for the enterprise.”
Auterion’s operating system is available as a subscription service (SaaS) encompassing three main components: the software that runs on the drone, a cloud-based analytics suite for device and fleet management, and the enterprise customer success program. The company is showing the software at the InterDrone event in Las Vegas later this week.
Auterion was cofounded by Lorenz Meier, creator of Pixhawk and founder of PX4; and Sartori, who has a UC Berkeley MBA and is a drone industry veteran from Silicon Valley. The company has 25 employees and is currently hiring.
“With the U.S. being one of the largest commercial drone markets, it was important for Costanoa Ventures to find the right partner to accelerate the transformation that autonomy will bring to the U.S. market,” said Greg Sands, founder of Costanoa Ventures, in a statement. “Auterion’s open source, community-inclusive approach and customer-focused enterprise productization is world-class. Feedback from those in the ecosystem has been stellar, and we expect them to continue to be a shining light in the industry.“