Drone Operations

Santa Monica, CA

Number of employees-55

Why they’re on this list: The company recently became the second supplier of the LAANC system via their AirMap mobile app. In March, AirMap partnered with Rakuten to form a joint venture to bring unmanned traffic management to Japan. In early December of 2017 the company announced that Rakuten AirMap has officially launched the AirMap platform in Japan, revolutionizing airspace management and authorization.


Rugged, high endurance drones

Danvers, MA

Number of employees-55

Why they’re on this list: Headed by Helen Greiner, the co-founder of iRobot and inductee into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame, CyPhy Works specializes in the rapidly expanding field of drone manufacturing for defense, public safety and commercial industries. The company recently announced a partnership with UPS and the Red Cross to launch a drone pilot program, that will use a tethered drone to assess damage after major natural disasters in the United States. The tethered drone will go up 400 feet to provide aerial observation. The 30X zoom camera provides tens of miles of visibility and will be able to identify homes that have experienced water damage long before waters recede. The tethered drone from CyPhy can provide uninterrupted coverage at a disaster site for days or weeks at a time. …

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Last week I attended the Summit Series in Los Angeles which featured a virtual who’s-who of the modern business world, including Reed Hastings, Tim Ferris, Shonda Rhimes, Beth Comstock, Jessica Alba and Kobe Bryant, to name but a tiny fraction.

As a frontier tech investor, one of the highlights of Summit LA17 was a wide ranging discussion with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (conducted by his brother Mark, by the way). Bezos touched on a myriad of topics, both professional and personal, but his primary focus was on his reusable rocket company, Blue Origin. “We have to go to space to save earth”, Bezos says bluntly. …

Yesterday Lilium jet became the latest to announce their flying car $90 million funding round for “airplane as a service” businesses. Add to the giants like Tesla and Nvidia that are already working on this. The promise of the 5 seater all-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) jet is that it is 5 times faster than cars and with significantly less environmental impact. There are a number of other startups that are focused on the electric aircraft market, including Kitty Hawk and, both backed by Larry Page; and Vahana, backed by Airbus.

The Lilium VTOL jet is solely electric-powered which has left some aviation experts skeptical that the startup can reach its goal of speeds up to 300 kph and a distance of 300 km. However, the company claims that they have optimized the battery and the design (no tail). They have also made it 4 times less noisy than a helicopter so you can only hear it on takeoff and landing. …

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Above: Taco Bell promotes its new Tacobot.

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I never win raffles, but I finally did last week at the MIT Xconomy in Boston. My prize was a Roomba. These robotic vacuums have been around for years for personal use, but now hotels are using similar devices to not only automate the cleaning process but also most of the hotel functionality like check-in, check-out, food delivery, and the automatic folding of clothes. There’s even a completely robot-powered automated hotel in Japan.

As a service, automation is invaluable when done well. Businesses and investors are both looking to put a price on the convenience in order to maximize their gains. The technology is sometimes imperfect, yet the incentives for businesses to reduce labor costs are enticing in a variety of industries. …

Drones — Are You Looking in the Right Place for Investment?

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Photo by flickr user Richard Unten

Clearly drones are flying into mainstream. There was a torrent of news stories last week surrounding the launch of the DJI Phantom 4, and several WSJ articles about how drone investments have not delivered to full potential. As an early stage investor looking at this sector, this “Drone Girl” (as I was also called this week at South by Southwest), was thinking about making sense of these headlines. Let’s examine consumer and commercial (with exception of 3M’s media, military and municipal) usage.

The Hottest Product in the Apple Store could be an Autonomous…

Why Investing in Disruptive (Frontier) Tech Is Your Best Hedge

I was lucky enough to attend the Grammy Awards this week. Being at the enormous Staples Center and having an immersive experience with the packed stadium, I was thinking about virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR). Would consumers pay to have this experience if they could not be there?

The Grammys is the kind of show that looks just as good, if not better, on television. The only difference is sitting with the crowds in the dark. But it’s not like going crazy at a concert — you are told when to sit down, when to clap, and when the commercial break is over…it’s a production. So I was thinking — what experiences will consumers will pay for in VR/AR? …


Nisa Amoils

@AmoilsNisa VC Scout Ventures

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