AirMap, the world’s leading airspace management platform for drones, today announced a $26 million Series B funding round led by Microsoft Ventures, with additional participation from Airbus Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures (the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated), Rakuten, Sony, Yuneec, and existing investors General Catalyst and Lux Capital. The new investment brings AirMap’s total funding to more than $43 million.
The Series B funding round will bring AirMap’s airspace management platform and Unmanned aircraft Traffic Management (UTM) solutions to new markets worldwide, as AirMap opens offices in Berlin, Germany and at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.
“The strategic partners participating in our Series B financing reflect the diversity of the drone ecosystem and the potential of drones to benefit every sector of our economy,” said AirMap CEO Ben Marcus, who also serves as the industry co-chair for the FAA/industry Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team. “Very soon, millions of drones will fly billions of flights. This is a future that depends on safe, autonomous drone operations at scale. AirMap’s technology will make this future possible, allowing the drones of today, and the autonomous drones of tomorrow, to take flight.”
New Series B investors joining AirMap’s network of partners include:
- Microsoft Ventures – The investment in AirMap aligns with the company’s ambition to power a safe drone ecosystem.
- Airbus Ventures – Airbus has long-term experience with air traffic management and is actively participating in the emerging drone ecosystem. Airbus Ventures and AirMap will collaborate to facilitate the safe integration of autonomous vehicles into the airspace, from delivery drones to flying taxis.
- Qualcomm Ventures –The drone of the future will have airspace services like AirMap’s directly embedded into onboard computing systems, such as the Qualcomm® Snapdragon Flight™ drone platform, a highly optimized platform targeted specifically for consumer drones and robotics applications. The advanced computing power will deliver robust data and services to support autonomous navigation, beyond visual line of sight.
- Rakuten – Rakuten is the operator of Japan’s leading online shopping mall and one of the world’s leading internet services companies. Rakuten launched the Sora Raku Rakuten Drone service in April 2016 and has worked with local partners to carry out a number of groundbreaking drone delivery flights in Japan.
- Sony – Sony is a pioneer in the commercial drone business in Japan through its Sony group affiliate, Aerosense Inc. Sony seeks to expand its drone business globally by leveraging broad technology assets within the Sony group, as well as strong partnerships with innovative startups such as AirMap. Sony is making its investment in AirMap through its Sony Innovation Fund.
- Yuneec – Yuneec is a leader in electric aviation with drones focused on hobby, consumer and commercial customers. Yuneec and AirMap are looking forward to working together to ensure a future in which drones are even safer and easier to fly.
The AirMap platform powers the vast majority of the world’s drones, providing the industry’s most comprehensive, reliable, and real-time airspace information and services. Millions of drones and hundreds of drone manufacturers and developers rely on the platform to access and share the data they need to fly safely in low-altitude airspace. AirMap’s data and services are embedded into drones, ground control stations, and flight apps by top drone makers, such as DJI, Intel, senseFly, 3DR, and Aeryon Labs – expanding the reach of AirMap’s technology and solutions throughout the entire drone ecosystem.
AirMap has also emerged as a leader in worldwide efforts to build technologies for UTM, the regulatory and technological framework that will facilitate data exchange and air traffic control for drones, and eventually, flying cars. More than 125 airports use AirMap’s airspace management dashboard to open surrounding airspace to drones, view past and current drone flights, accept digital flight notices, and communicate with drone operators. The AirMap platform also provides solutions for geofencing, remote identification of drones, and sophisticated in-flight deconfliction.
“AirMap is a leader in low-altitude airspace management, and will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the drone industry,” said Nagraj Kashyap, corporate vice president, Microsoft Ventures. “We’re excited to support their growth and, by extension, the growth of commercial and recreational applications for both piloted and autonomous drones. We believe that by investing in companies like AirMap, Microsoft’s resources, platforms and AI technologies can help fuel the future of the drone ecosystem.”
“At Airbus Ventures, we aim to accelerate and facilitate urban air mobility by making investments in related key technologies,” said Thomas d’Halluin, CEO of Airbus Ventures. “Our goal is to help unlock the underlying technologies that will bring about rapid, widespread adoption and transform the whole system of urban travel. We are proud to collaborate with AirMap in helping build the essential safety infrastructure to introduce and secure traffic patterns for autonomous vehicles into the airspace.”
“Qualcomm is excited about the opportunity for UAVs to solve real problems and create value for consumers and enterprises,” said Quinn Li, vice president and global head of Qualcomm Ventures. “We have funded a number of companies across the UAV technology stack and see the platform as a key enabler for widespread UAV adoption and deployment.”
“As drone-based commercial services become more common, there is a growing need for airspace management technologies to ensure the safe and smooth operation of these services in low-altitude airspace,” commented Takashi Toraishi, president of the New Services Development Company of Rakuten, Inc. and responsible for the Sora Raku Rakuten Drone service. “AirMap’s platform, UTM solutions and regulatory expertise have made it a leader in the airspace management industry, and we believe the company will make a significant contribution to the development of commercial drone ecosystems around the world.”
AirMap experienced significant growth in 2016, expanding its workforce to 50 employees, including the appointment of veteran tech executive Daniel Rubio as Chief Technology Officer and former NATS CEO Richard Deakin as Chairman of EMEA. Last year, AirMap launched a developer platform, which opens the company’s library of APIs and SDKs to industry manufacturers and app developers, and the Digital Notice and Awareness System, an airspace management dashboard used by more than 125 airports. AirMap also significantly expanded its data for situational awareness, flight planning, and geofencing, adding real-time manned traffic alerts, live wildfire information, microscale weather, and more.
Since the company was founded in 2015, AirMap has raised more than $43 million in investment capital. In April 2016, AirMap announced a $15 million Series A financing led by General Catalyst Partners. In July 2015, they raised $2.6 million in seed funding, led by Lux Capital.