This startup has raised $8m to help drones and “air taxis” avoid collision
A US-based startup has closed an $8m (£5.8m) Series A funding round to propel the development of its collision avoidance system for commercial drones and "air taxis".
Iris Automation uses artificial intelligence, along with computer vision and "sensor fusion" to create a situational awareness platform for drones and air taxis to "enable their widespread use in the near future without the risk of mid-air collisions or catastrophes".
It will use the investment to bolster its team, which it says already comprises of individuals from NASA and Boeing, and to scale up the technology.
Bessemer Venture Partners led the round and Bee Partners participated, with Bessemer's David Cowan joining the board of directors.
Iris Automation said flying robots have the potential to revolutionise industries such as farming, infrastructure, delivery and human transportation, but a lack of trust in the safety of autonomy by regulators around the world "has held back the transformational power of these machines".
To ramp up the level of safety for autonomous drones, the firm says they need to be equipped with sensors and intelligent systems that provide "the same level of situational awareness as human pilots possess today".
Iris Automation's system aims to do just that – able to guide drones and other "flying robots" safely away from potential collision trajectories.
Here's how it works in action:
Alexander Harmsen, Iris Automation's chief executive, said:
Our team of experts in computer vision, machine learning, and traditional aviation have built a product that will provide the level of safety necessary for pushing the boundaries of what is possible with drones, at a size factor and price point unheard of in the world of aviation.
In November, the government said new rules will be introduced to regulate drones in the UK, with those flying them having to pass safety tests. A new registry for owners of larger drones will also be made mandatory. The draft drone bill will be subject to consultation.