Continuing partnership with AIRMAP: helping make drones a part of everyday life

By Bilal Zuberi

Last year Lux Capital partnered with AirMap by leading their seed financing, and I joined their Board of Directors. Our co-investors who believed in AirMap’s vision of making air space accessible and safe for everyone in the drone ecosystem included Social+Capital, TenOneTen Ventures, BullPen Capital, and other investors.

Today, AirMap is announcing a new $15M Series A financing led by General Catalyst Partners. Lux proudly stepped up to be an even bigger partner with this round. It will be great to work again with Hemant Taneja, who is joining AirMap’s Board of Directors. Other investment firms participating in the Series A include Social Capital, TenOneTen Ventures, Bullpen Capital and the Pritzker Group.

In addition AirMap also announced the addition of three respected executives to their Board of Advisors. These include Bill Ayer, former Chairman & CEO of Alaska Airlines, Richard Deakin, former CEO of National Air Traffic Services (NATS) (the air navigation service provider for the United Kingdom), and Graham Richard, former mayor of Ft. Wayne, Indiana and current CEO of Advanced Energy Economy. I look forward to working with all of them.

AirMap is on a mission to make drones a part of everyday life. They provide the airspace management system for drones, allowing commercial and consumer drones to be operated safely in skies across the country. AirMap’s cutting-edge technology transforms airspace below 500 feet to create an interconnected drone ecosystem. AirMap provides accurate, reliable, and trustworthy low-altitude navigational data, global data set of important & relevant sites, weather information, and communication tools to the drone industry — drone manufacturers, operators, and airspace stakeholders. Whether you are a hobbyist, using drones on a family vacation or on outdoor excursions, using drones for commercial monitoring of facilities/agriculture/construction, or planning for BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Sight) use such as in drone delivery operations, you no longer have to understand all the federal, regional, local regulations on drone use and the communications requirements. AirMap provides all that in one place with a simple UI, and much more! (see more details of what Airmap does on Ben’s blog post).

Ben and Greg, the two co-founders of AirMap, are a force to reckon with. Its been terrific to partner with them so far on this journey. They are relentless supporters of the nascent, but rapidly growing, drone ecosystem in the US and globally. In a short period of time they have struck mutually beneficial partnerships with leading drone-makers DJI Global and 3D Robotics (with more to be announced later); launched Digital Notice and Awareness System(D-NAS) in partnership with the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) which provides the tools necessary for safe drone flights near airports, and to which more than 50 airports have signed up already; and have a rapidly expanding global network of hundreds of partners and thousands of app users. If you are a DJI, 3DR, or AirMap web/iOS app user, you may have already seen their magic in action. For example, yesterday as I was using their app I could see that President Obama will be in Los Angeles on April 8th due to which FAA has imposed a temporary flight restriction there between 2AM-8PM (see screenshot below), and that flying a drone near my office in Menlo Park would require first informing both San Carlos and Palo Alto airports.

I believe drones will be a part of our everyday life in short order, and AirMap’s data platform is helping enable that future. Last year nearly 1 million drones were sold in the US and some estimates suggest 2.5 million drones will be sold in the US in 2016. Many of us already know friends who take amazing videos on vacations with drones; there are drones that follow you without even needing a controller; others that sense-and-avoid objects and fly autonomously; drones that can even dip in water and keep flying; drones are used regularly in hollywood filming; drones that help police and firefighters; and drones that can deliver parcels to your home or to healthcare clinics in Rwanda.

The heroic efforts of DJI, 3DR, Yuneec, Parrot, Google, Amazon, CyPhy Works, Lily, Skydio, Kespry, SkyCatch, Aeryon Labs, and others over the last few years are well known to many…but I have also met so many more amazing companies building, flying, and operating drone-enabled services. AirMap aims to be a partner to all of them. The future looks awesome!

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