Airware, the company that developed the Aerial Information Platform, the industry’s most comprehensive operating system for commercial drones, today announced it is delivering, for the first time, complete enterprise drone solutions directly to the Fortune 500. Airware’s drone solutions, built on top of Airware’s Aerial Information Platform, include cloud-based planning, commercial operator software, vehicles with sophisticated autonomy and on-board sensors, cloud data processing, as well as analytics and reporting, all within a complete workflow that enables companies to integrate aerial data into their existing business processes and systems. With Airware, companies in insurance, utilities, telecom, and oil & gas can improve operational efficiency, ensure compliance, enhance worker safety, and capture more accurate, repeatable data to improve decision making.
State Farm®, the number one insurer of residential properties in the United States and the first insurance company to have been granted a Section 333 exemption by the FAA, is partnering with Airware to leverage commercial drone technology for rooftop inspections, underwriting, and disaster response.
“At State Farm, our active exploration of innovative new technologies will help us continue to meet the changing needs of our customers and remain the leader in our industry,” said Jack Weekes, Operations Vice President at State Farm. “We’re currently engaged in a limited deployment with Airware to conduct hundreds of test flights and assess how commercial drones can help adjusters conduct rooftop inspections.”
“With drones, enterprises can finally bridge the physical and digital worlds, yielding new actionable insights and better decision making,” said Airware founder & CEO Jonathan Downey. “But navigating a fragmented market of incomplete offerings has left many enterprises frustrated. Today, we’re announcing complete enterprise drone solutions built on Airware’s Aerial Information Platform. Airware’s unique architecture enables Airware and our customers to more quickly deploy new applications for drones in a robust and scalable way that complies with regulations, enhances safety, and ensures accurate data.”
Series C Funding Led by Next World Capital
Airware also announced today $30 million in Series C funding. The round is led by Next World Capital with John Chambers, Andreessen Horowitz, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) participating. This funding will be used to increase Airware’s capacity to work with additional customers by expanding customer success, professional services, sales, and marketing functions as well as geographic expansion leveraging Next World Capital’s European expansion platform.
As part of Airware’s direct-to-enterprise approach, the company has added John Chambers, the current Executive Chairman and 20-year former CEO of Cisco, to its Board of Directors. He joins Airware’s Jonathan Downey; Chris Dixon, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz; and Mike Abbott, general partner at KPCB. Chambers, who is helping guide Airware’s enterprise sales efforts, chose Airware as his first board seat since retiring as Cisco’s CEO last summer.
“Successful companies get market transitions right,” said John Chambers, former CEO and current executive chairman of Cisco. “Digitization and the associated business model evolution is occurring rapidly across every industry. The commercial drone industry is poised to throw many markets into transition. Airware has a great CEO who is scaling remarkably fast, a strong management team and a value-added market proposition. I believe Jonathan and the Airware team are positioned to lead, and it’s an honor to be a part of their team.”
As part of the round of financing, Tom Rikert, partner at Next World Capital, has joined the company as a Board Observer.
“Airware’s enterprise-grade solution unlocks the value of drones by integrating them directly into business operations, across a variety of applications and verticals,” said Rikert. “We saw Airware as the most experienced team building a global leader in a massive new category, and are delighted to be part of this journey supporting them in scaling sales, marketing, operations, and international expansion.”
Bringing Aerial Data to the Fortune 500
With Airware’s enterprise drone solutions, aerial data becomes an extension of a customer’s existing data management systems. Airware’s comprehensive set of technology enables enterprises to plan, capture, and analyze aerial data, all within an enterprise workflow that includes:
Work Management: Airware reduces the technical and operational challenges of integrating drones and aerial data into existing business processes. The Airware Cloud provides easy-to-integrate application programming interfaces (APIs) to integrate with most enterprise work management systems, so users can start an aerial inspection job, from within their existing systems. Geofence boundaries for the job can be automatically generated based on an address or GPS coordinates. Users can then specify data products that need to be collected and an optimal flight plan can be automatically computed.
Approvals: Airware helps companies ensure compliance with civil aviation regulations such as FAA no-fly zones, as well as insurance requirements, and internal company policies. If all safety, regulatory and internal criteria are met, approval can be granted and the job can then be dispatched directly to an approved employee or third-party operator. The Airware Cloud includes role-based security that allows administrators to easily manage who can create and dispatch jobs, and which operators can be assigned various types of jobs.
Operators: Operators download their assigned jobs using Airware’s operator software. To help ensure compliance with regulations and company policies, only users with valid permissions can revise flight plans, and only operators with valid credentials can access and execute them.
Autonomous Data Collection: Airware’s flight control software enables autonomous aerial data collection, eliminating the risk of in-flight human error and ensuring uniformity of data for accurate decision making. Flight automation also ensures job repeatability, allowing companies to use data for time-series analysis and change detection. The aircraft can only be activated within an approved and valid geofence as defined by the job’s specific requirements. The aircraft flies the prescribed flight plan and automatically collects data. Once the flight is complete, the operator uploads the data to the Airware Cloud or processes the data in the field.
Data Processing: Data can be automatically processed to create a variety of information products including orthomosaics, 3D models, and digital surface models. In addition, companies with unique data processing needs can customize data products, leveraging their own proprietary or third party tools. Permissions can be set to define who can see and share raw data and information products.
Analysis and Reporting: Information products can be used to conduct analyses like property damage assessment, infrastructure condition assessment, asset inventory, and vegetation encroachment, taking precise planimetric and 3D measurements, and detecting changes in environments or facilities over time. Data or information products can be easily shared and integrated into reports, external analysis software, or databases. By working with uniform aerial data, businesses can make quicker decisions with greater confidence.
In addition to a complete enterprise workflow, Airware’s Aerial Information Platform is extensible so that as the drone industry continually evolves, enterprises leveraging Airware solutions can keep pace with the best data processing tools, sensors, and aircraft.
To better support enterprise customers in their efforts to deploy and scale commercial drone solutions, Airware has been actively involved in helping drive commercial drone regulations by testifying as an expert before Congress, serving on standards committees both in the United States and abroad, collaborating as the first commercial partner of NASA’s Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system, and working closely with the FAA Test Sites to ensure Airware customers have the broadest access to airspace for commercial operations.
“With the FAA releasing the Small UAS Rule this summer, enterprises are increasingly eager to bring their drone efforts from testing to scaled deployment, and a major consideration is safe and compliant operations,” said Downey, a commercial multi-engine rated pilot. “In commercial aviation, the two factors which have most significantly increased safety are cockpit software automation and enforced pilot workflows. Airware has built sophisticated automation and enforced operator workflows into its platform and solutions from day one, enabling enterprises to plan, capture, and analyze aerial data with confidence.”
Airware offers complete enterprise drone solutions built on the industry’s most comprehensive hardware, software, and cloud services platform. Based in San Francisco, Airware has gathered a cross-disciplinary team of experts in aerospace, robotics, geospatial, hardware, software, and cloud services. Founded in 2011, Airware has raised more than $70 million to date from investors including Next World Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, John Chambers, First Round Capital, Google Ventures, GE Ventures, and Intel Capital. For more information, go to Airware.com or follow Airware on Twitter: @Airware.
About Next World Capital
Next World Capital (NWC) is an international early-revenue stage venture capital firm investing in leading enterprise technology companies. The firm takes a focused, thematic approach with deep experience in enterprise tech and specialized skills to help companies ramp during this rapid-growth period. NWC leads investments and focuses on U.S. companies with the potential to become global category leaders, including investments in Zuora, DataStax, Origami Logic, Datameer, BrightRoll (acquired by Yahoo!), NexGen Storage (acquired by Fusion-io), and DynamicOps (acquired by VMware). The firm is the only U.S. VC operating a comprehensive European Expansion Platform with strategy, sales, and business development to help its companies access and grow in Europe. Based in San Francisco, NWC has additional offices in London and Paris. For more information, go to Nextworldcap.com or follow NWC on Twitter: @Nextworldcap.