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Microsoft Leads $26 Million Investment In Drone Air Traffic Control Startup AirMap

24 February 2017, 8:00 am EST By Aaron Mamiit Tech Times
AirMap, a startup working on technology that acts as air traffic control for drones, raised $26 million in a funding round. The investment was led by Microsoft Ventures and supported by Airbus Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures, among others.  ( AirMap )

As more drones take flight, there has been a growing need for a system that would act as air traffic control for the unmanned aerial vehicles.

AirMap, a startup based in California that is focused on such platform, has announced a funding round of $26 million, showing that there is indeed interest in software that would help pilots keep their drones safe and flying within legal boundaries.

AirMap Raises $26 Million From Several Investors

AirMap's $26 million funding round was led by Microsoft Ventures, which is Microsoft's corporate venture fund. The logic in investing into AirMap comes from the fact that many of Microsoft's customers that utilize its software in industries such as energy, security, construction, and agriculture, among others, will also likely rely on drones for various applications in the near future.

"AirMap is a leader in low-altitude airspace management, and will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the drone industry," said Microsoft Ventures corporate VP Nagraj Kashyap, adding that with the investment in drone-focused startups like AirMap, the company is looking to help with the rapid development of the technology's ecosystem.

Microsoft Ventures is joined by other big names in the funding round, namely Airbus Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Sony, Rakuten, Yuneec, Lux Capital, and General Catalyst.

The Technology Of AirMap

While numerous companies have been involved in designing drones to fill up the airspace, AirMap has been working on technology that would work behind the scenes for the management of the logistics and safety aspects of unmanned aerial vehicles taking flight.

Pilots need to make sure that their drones, once they start flying out of their sight, would not be colliding with other drones or structures. They also need to know if there are certain areas that need to be avoided and at what times to do so.

The airspace intelligence platform of AirMap allows pilots to ensure the safety of their drones, partly because it enables drones to communicate with one another. The services and data of AirMap are embedded into the drones, the flight apps of pilots, and in ground control stations, allowing pilots to know more about their location's flight conditions and its airspace rules.

Supporting the technology are over 125 airports, including almost all major airports in the United States, which utilize the airspace management dashboard of AirMap to find out if there are drones flying nearby.

The Future Of AirMap

Before the new funding round, AirMap had already raised $17 million. With the $26 million capital injection, AirMap is now looking to accelerate the planned global adoption of its airspace management technology.

The company is already working with other tech companies such as Intel, 3D Robotics, and DJI, which happens to be the biggest drone maker in the world. However, AirMap notes that the drones of today are mostly piloted, and that the company is looking forward even further.

"We know the future will bring a thinking, autonomous drone," the company noted in a blog post that announced the funding. The platform that AirMap is developing will continue to increase in value once more advanced drones are developed, a prediction that is likely shared by the companies that invested in the startup.

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