AI News, Microsoft and Airbus Just Got Drone Fever

Microsoft and Airbus Just Got Drone Fever

The venture capital arms of Microsoft and Airbus are betting that the business of drones will one day soar.

AirMap has received a lot of attention from the drone and aviation industry over its technology that lets drone pilots be aware of flight conditions and local and national airspace rules.

Nagraj Kashyap, the head of Microsoft Ventures, said the funding round is the first time Microsoft’s VC arm has invested in a drone startup since the VC unit debuted in May. Microsoft has not yet chosen who will represent the company as part of AirMap’s board, Kashyap said.

Although Microsoft is “not in the business of building drones,” the tech giant could eventually benefit by providing the cloud-computing infrastructure that helps startups like AirMap deliver their software services to customers.

He compared what Microsoft hopes to provide in the drone space to its efforts in convincing customers to use its Azure cloud computing service, as a backbone of sorts for Internet-connected cars.

For Airbus Ventures, the VC arm’s CEO Thomas d’Halluin said his firm would act as the “middleman” between AirMap’s team and the Airbus “mothership,” adding that the two companies can make their respective air traffic management systems work together.

AirMap raises $26 million to manage air traffic as drone use surges

But that won’t scale to manage millions of drones and billions of flights.” There are already an estimated 100,000 drone flights taking place per day.

When they are technologically and legally able to fly without a human pilot monitoring them at every moment, AirMap wants to be able to feed them information about the safest routes to fly, taking into consideration not just static rules, terrain and obstacles, but shifting traffic conditions, weather, temporary flight restrictions and more.

But more importantly, AirMap works with drone makers, regulators and airports who use the startup’s systems to understand where drones are flying, and to ping them or geofence and bar them from flying where it’s not safe for them to be.

AirMap intends to use the funding to open new offices and further develop its airspace management and air traffic management systems, and to open new offices around the world.

They can know don’t fly this area, you’re not the priority here please move aside, or you’re good here, fly safely.” He said investors expect AirMap to use its funding to make its systems better-known to all players in and around the drone industry.

Microsoft, Airbus climb aboard drones software firm AirMap

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - AirMap, a start-up which has become the world’s top supplier of air traffic management software for drones, is raising $26 million in new financing from a group of industry investors led by the venture capital investment arm of Microsoft.

AirMap said it provides real-time traffic management services for 80 percent of all drones, including millions of robotic aircraft from hundreds of manufacturers, allowing drones and their controllers to share data needed to fly safely at low altitudes.

AirMap’s data and services are already embedded in drones, ground control stations and flight apps from top drone makers including China’s DJI, U.S. chipmaker Intel, Switzerland’s senseFly, a unit of Parrot SA, U.S.-based 3D Robotics (3DR) and Canada’s Aeryon Labs.

More than 125 airports use AirMap’s management dashboard to open surrounding airspace to drones, view past and current drone flights, track digital flight notices, and communicate with drone operators.

A company that provides air traffic management for drones just raised money from Microsoft and Airbus

One of the biggest problems that still needs to be figured out before most people’s Amazon orders are delivered by a drone is managing how aircraft will coordinate and communicate with other drones and humans on the ground.

Eighty percent of the world’s drones — including aircraft made by DJI (the world’s largest drone maker), Yuneec and Intel — are using AirMap’s services for things like preventing drones from entering protected airspace, like near airports.

Drones flying out of line of sight from the operator need to be able to ensure that they won’t hit other drones or collide with buildings, and they’ll also need a way to know which areas to avoid and when, like if there’s a fire the drone shouldn’t fly into.

That is, drones need to share and receive real-time information with other drones, as well as operators and local authorities on the ground — especially considering how unmanned aircraft can land and take off anywhere, unlike airplanes.

Microsoft’s VC Arm Invests In Drone Company AirMap

Drones that deliver packages and provide other services may still be a few years away, but that hasn’t stopped all sorts of companies from getting into the burgeoning market, with Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant, led a $26 million venture round in AirMap, a drone startup that is the main maker of software that manages air traffic for drones.

(AMZN) and Alphabet Inc.’s Google (GOOG.) The move on the part of Microsoft to get into the drone market comes at a time when companies are in a race to become a big player in what is expected to become a huge market opportunity for a slew of industries from delivery companies like United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) to software makers such as Microsoft.

Just this week UPS tested a drone that launched from the top of an electric package-delivery car, delivered a package to a customer’s home in Lithia, Fla., and then returned to the vehicle that had continued along a route to make a different delivery.

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