Based in Detroit, AirspaceLink has established itself as an increasingly important infrastructure provider for fast-growing drone service spaces, allowing operators to quickly obtain local and federal approval. With $ 23 million in new support, the company plans to provide the platform to other countries that are trying to get the drone industry on track.
The company’s primary service is an online service that enables anyone using a UAV to obtain a FAA flight permit by showing that the required safety protocols are in place. This process, like other forms of bureaucracy, is particularly difficult for startups and individuals to manage, and even large companies with compliance teams want to make it easy.
“This has hampered the unpredictable drone industry, such as food delivery,” said CEO Michael Healander. “Everyone knows that drones can do these things, but there is no integration into the country’s infrastructure. Operators prove that they have radar and surveillance systems, and people in critical infrastructure. We are building our own system to calculate the probability of a collision … We need to build a safety case for the FAA. “
Airspace Link partially automates this process and tracks ground-based infrastructure such as radar coverage and other notable flights and assets in the area.
“Our goal is to tell the operator,’There’s a pesticide sprayer coming into your area, so there’s a place to stop and land here,'” Healander said. However, unlike other companies that sell services as software for drone pilots, AirspaceLink has established itself as an infrastructure provider at the state and local levels.
“The municipality has white-labeled the Airspace Link platform, saying,” It’s a Michigan system. ” You haven’t proved your safety case to the FAA there — the state offers that service, “he explained. Of course, there is a charge, but it is a convenient charge, not an airspace usage charge. If you want to do the paperwork yourself, you can. CFO Bill Johnson believes that local governments are looking for ways to turn this from billing information into a source of revenue.
“Similar to how we use roads, we enable economic activity in the region, enable partners and technological advances. Everyone is in a position to benefit from this ecosystem advancement.” He said.
This could increase as FAA regulations continue to limit drone operations, especially the obligations that all drones broadcast their location from September (fines start one year later). This promises a lot of entry to service providers in this sector and is part of the reason the company is raising money.
“The reason we’re stepping on gas is that in the next four years it’s going to grab a little land, and we’re trying to do it before people understand it. how We are doing that, “Healander said. That is, it is built into the government pipeline as an infrastructure rather than being sold to individuals or businesses.
“Here in the United States, we’re going to pour gasoline into some areas for expansion, but the main reason for raising capital is global expansion. Several countries want this, and drone companies Is also globalizing, “he continued.
As an example, he proposed the UAE. There, after years of loose drone regulations, the country suddenly banned all drone operations with new policies pending months ago. Emulating companies like FAA (which has overseen most drone research and commerce) and Airspace Link is the easiest for these countries who want to explore the potential of UAV services as well as other states and cities. It’s a quick road.
Airspace Link has partnered with global airspace monitoring company Thales and location data giant ESRI to enable products to be deployed in locations like Dubai. For products.
The $ 23.1 million B round was led by Avanta Ventures, the VC division of the CSAA Insurance Group. This represents another category of interest in bureaucratic formalism mitigation and risk quantification. Ultimately, something like Airspace Link could be an insurance policy contributor or requirement. The round also included investments from Morningside, Caprock, Altos Ventures, Indicator Ventures, 2048 Ventures, Detroit Venture Partners and Thales Group.
The company currently employs nearly 50 people and expects to grow even faster as it pursues the next stage of ambition. “If we want to globalize, we need to build a global team,” says Healander.