The last 10-20 years showed an unprecedented growth in real-time information about our 2-D highway systems and the vehicular traffic on it. We all have easy access to GPS units or apps in our phone that not only provide us with dynamic maps of highways, but also traffic on routes, temporary lane and street blockades, safety hazards, and weather information pertinent to driving. We heavily rely on such information and drive through unknown neighborhoods with confidence every single day without breaking any rules, and without causing harm to others. Uber/Lyft are called with the push of a button and their vehicles are tracked in real-time on our phones with full information on exactly when they will arrive. In fact, the knowledge of our street systems is getting so good that autonomous cars are now able to drive around cities entirely dependent on GPS and SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping).
If innovation in the last century was defined by our development of roads & 2D highway networks, I believe this next one will be about our air highways, specifically the air space below ~500 feet of altitude. We have gone 3D with flying robots and there is no stopping now. We already see drones buzzing around in the air, taking photos, videos for entertainment and security, aiding in rescue efforts, as outdoors sports vehicles, and even delivering parcels. We should only expect to see more of that. However, information available about the airspace in which drones are allowed to operate remains extremely fragmented, very hard to find, and is changing rapidly and often on short notice. This airspace information needs to be organized asap so innovation can take flight. And AirMap does exactly that.
I am excited to announce that Lux Capital just led a $2.6M financing in AirMap, and I will be joining their Board of Directors. We are joined by our co-investors that include Social+Capital Partnership, Bullpen Capital, TenOneTen Ventures, LegendStar, and Haystack. AirMap co-founders, Ben Marcus and Greg McNeal, are veterans in the fields of aviation and airspace laws/regulation, and well known in the drone industry. I am proud of our partnership with them and excited for what the future holds.
I am a huge believer in the potential of drones. And my firm Lux Capital has invested in that ecosystem before, for example in the commercial drone-maker CyPhy Works or the drone imaging app BrightSkyLabs. DJI, 3DR, Parrot and others have also done a fabulous job commercializing drone technology in the US and internationally. But for drones to operate safely, legally, and effectively, accurate airspace related information will need to be available to drone operating systems. Airspace restrictions are being set and changed at national, state, county and town levels, and compliance is often hard to figure out. AirMap solves all that. AirMap focuses exclusively on providing accurate, reliable and trustworthy airspace information so that others in this nascent industry can build amazing vehicles and applications. It is a ‘Sky Atlas‘ for the drones industry, except it is easy to use, updated in real-time with accurate information, and available as an API to be fully integrated into your own drone related apps.
The airspace information that AirMap provide to operators, developers and manufacturers includes:
- Airport airspace for recreational and commercial use, as well as the future proposed rules
- Temporary flight restrictions like for firefighting or presidential travel
- Restricted and prohibited airspace, like around Washington, DC and military bases
- National Parks and NOAA Marine Protection Areas-Schools, Hospitals, Heliports, and Power Plants
- Several other layers of information relevant to drone flights are planned in near future
AirMap is also a member of the Small UAV Coalition and the the NASA Unmanned TrafficManagement (UTM) program. Already drone manufacturers and operators are utilizing their API, and soon AirMap will also release an SDK and a downloadable phone/tablet app for drone operators. Simply stated, if you are building a drone or drone software, or operating drones as a hobbyist or professionally, you should use AirMap. Don’t be caught flying in a space you shouldn’t be, or get fined for violating permanent or temporary restrictions. Help this industry prove drones are safe, respectful of privacy, and capable of self-regulation.
p.s. see below an airspace map around Lux Capital office in Menlo Park.