Iris Automation Closes $13 million in Series B Venture Capital Financing

Iris Automation has closed a successful round of $13 million in Series B venture capital funding. Founded in 2015, Iris Automation is a computer vision technology company pioneering the development of advanced detection systems used to help provide Detect-and-Avoid (DAA) capabilities that enable safe commercial drone operations including scalable Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) missions.

The funding includes follow-on investment by Bessemer Venture PartnersBee PartnersOCA Ventures, and new investors Sony Innovation Fund and Verizon Ventures. The addition of this strategic investment acknowledges the criticality of collision avoidance and safety technology to the future aviation community.

Quote from Jon Damush, CEO of Iris Automation

“We are incredibly excited about this show of support from our current and new investors, particularly during this unprecedented global pandemic. We have always known that our approach to the problem solves a critical missing link for unpiloted systems, and plan to deploy this capital to further expand our capabilities and improve safety for unpiloted systems as global regulators work to integrate UAS into existing airspaces. The investment clearly illustrates investor confidence in growth of the sector and specifically Iris’ role in the ecosystem.”

With this investment, Iris Automation will: 

–       Expand machine learning and AI capabilities and testing to improve and extend the Casia system’s performance envelope.

–       Continue to participate in the Federal Aviation Administration’s BEYOND program, focused on enabling Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations with Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to advance airspace integration. BEYOND will demonstrate operations that are repeatable, scalable and economically viable with specific emphasis on infrastructure inspection, public safety operations and small package delivery.

–       Continue to improve detection and classification capabilities of the Casia system to support expanded use cases, operational environments and aircraft compatibility.

–       Build out fulfillment capabilities to produce, deliver and support the growing installed base of aircraft OEM partners and end use customers, and enter new markets associated with aircraft safety.

Quote from David Cowan, Bessemer Venture partner and Iris board member

“We see explosive demand in energy, agriculture, construction, security and logistics for long-range and remotely operated drones. Iris’ collision avoidance product, the only on-board, visual aircraft recognition system to receive government approval, provides a critical piece of air safety needed to unlock this enormous market.”

Quote from Tess Hatch, Bessemer Venture vice president and Iris board member

“One day drones will ubiquitously operate in our airspace making our lives safer, easier, and better, and Iris Automation is the key to unlocking the full potential of commercial operations. Enabling drones to fly beyond visual line of sight helps expand a myriad of operations from inspecting oil pipelines and railroad tracks to agricultural farms to last mile delivery, and makes all of those operations much more efficient and less expensive.”

Quote from Gen Tsuchikawa, CEO and Chief Investment Officer at Innovation Growth Ventures and the Sony Innovation Fund (SIF), Corporate Vice President, Sony Corp.

“Iris Automation is pushing the innovation envelope by using machine vision and on-board AI to bring unparalleled safety to the unmanned aircraft industry, which will fully unlock the commercial drone market beyond visual line-of-sight. This further builds upon Sony Innovation Fund’s drone investment thesis, and we believe the company’s scalable technologies makes it uniquely positioned to usher a new era in autonomous aviation.”

The investment reflects the continued growth at Iris Automation and the opportunities in the global commercial drone market space. Aviation industry veteran and entrepreneur Jon Damush recently joined Iris Automation as CEO, and the company also recently conducted a live drone flight demonstration for the City of Reno Fire Department of its Casia onboard (DAA) collision avoidance system, under the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP). This closely followed Transport Canada also having issued the second Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for BVLOS flights in uncontrolled airspace utilizing infrastructure masking and Iris Automation’s Casia system to MVT Geo-solutions.

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