Drone Tracking Platform Airspace Link Gathers Government Customers Before Going Global

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Detroit-based Airspace Link is positioning itself as an increasingly critical infrastructure provider in the growing drone services space, allowing operators to quickly gain local and federal approval. With $23 million in new backing, the company now plans to introduce its platform to other countries looking to get their drone industry back on its feet.

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The company’s main offering is an online service that helps anyone who works with UAVs obtain FAA clearance to fly by demonstrating that they have the necessary safety protocols. This process, like any form of bureaucracy, is especially difficult for startups and individuals, and even large companies with compliance departments would like it to be easier.

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“The drone industry for things like food delivery is being held back by this,” CEO Michael Hilander said. “We all know that drones can do these things, but there is no integration into national infrastructure. Operators build their own systems to prove they have radar and surveillance systems to calculate the likelihood of human impact, critical infrastructure… you have to prepare a safety case for the FAA.”

Airspace Link partially automates this process by keeping track of ground infrastructure such as radar coverage, important other flights and assets in the area, and so on.

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“Our goal is to tell the operator, ‘A sweeper is coming into your area, so stop and here’s a landing spot,'” Healander said. But unlike other companies that sell their services as software for drone pilots, Airspace Link positions itself as a state and local infrastructure provider.

“Municipalities label the Airspace Link platform and say, ‘This is the Michigan system.’ You don’t prove your safety to the FAA there – the state provides this service,” he explained. There is a fee, of course, but this is a convenience fee, not an airspace fee – if you want to do the paperwork yourself, you can. CFO Bill Johnson says local governments are looking for a way to turn this from a cost to a source of income.

“Like how roads are used, we provide economic activity in this region, we provide partners and technological progress. Everyone will benefit from this progress in the ecosystem,” he said.

This is likely to only increase as FAA regulations continue to restrict drone operations, specifically starting in September (with penalties starting a year later) all drones broadcast their location. This is what promises big returns for service providers in the sector and is one of the reasons the company is raising money.

Airspace Link CEO Michael Hillander and CFO Bill Johnson.

“The reason we are stepping on the gas is that over the next four years it will be something like a land grab. And we try to make it before the people understand how we do it,” Hilander said. In other words, build yourself into a public pipeline as infrastructure, rather than selling it to individuals and companies.

“We’re going to gas up a few areas for expansion here in the US, but global expansion is the main reason we’ve raised capital. Many countries need such things, and drone companies are also going global,” he continued.

He cited the UAE as an example, where after years of lax drone regulation, the country abruptly banned all drone operations a few months ago in anticipation of a new policy. Emulating the FAA (which oversaw most drone research and sales) and companies like Airspace Link is the easiest and fastest way forward for these countries, which, like any state or city, want to explore the possibilities of drone services.

Airspace Link is partnering with Talus, a global airspace monitoring company, and ESRI, a location data giant, to make sure they can deploy the product in places like Dubai that, despite the demand they represent, are not easy to adapt. and localize. product k.

The $23.1 million round B was led by Avanta Ventures, the CSAA insurance group’s venture capital arm, which represents a different category interested in reducing red tape and quantifying risk. Ultimately, something like Airspace Link could be a contribution or a requirement for insurance policies. The round also included investments from Morningside, Caprock, Altos Ventures, Indicator Ventures, 2048 Ventures, Detroit Venture Partners and Thales Group.

The company is rapidly recruiting, now around 50 employees, and expects to grow even faster as it realizes the next phase of its ambitions. “If we’re going to go global, we’re going to have to build a global team,” Healander said.


Credit: techcrunch.com /

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