The last few months European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has been in the news a lot, not because of planes, but because of its recent moves in the drone industry.
In early March, Airbus announced that it’s working on a car-drone hybrid called Pop.Up with its partner Italdesign. The drone can operate on land or in the air thanks to a modular three part design. A passenger capsule can lock into a car chassis or lock into a large quadcopter to fly through the air. The Pop.Up is designed to be controlled by AI and the idea is of it to be summoned for use via a mobile app. The obvious limiting factor is that the Pop.Up cannot just take off or land anywhere it wants because its car chassis is left behind when it flies.
Airbus is also heavily invested in Singapore’s Skyways project which seeks to safely integrate drones into Singaporean airspace. Additionally, the aircraft-maker signed an agreement with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) to test a drone delivery service at the National University of Singapore sometime in the middle of this year.
In the US, Airbus Ventures was part of the new round of funding for drone software startup company AirMap. The Santa Monica-based company has an app that makes it easy for drone pilots to check for flight restrictions and even map their flight info to share with others. As part of their funding agreement, Airbus will be involved in AirMap’s business strategy and will help it build relationships with airports and regulators the world over.
The team here at Drone Dossier wants to believe that this is part of a well thought out plan by Airbus, but in some ways it seems they are throwing out as many ideas that they can and hoping that one sticks.
Drone software company AirMap is a tool that makes it easy for drone pilots to check for flight restrictions and even map their flight info to share with others. It’s a tool all drone pilots should use to ensure safe, legal flights. But AirMap has its eyes set on a bigger prize, it wants to form partnerships with airports and municipalities across America to help safely integrate drones into the airspace.
Already AirMap is working with over 100 airports through America to give them digital notices when drone flights happen nearby. Digital notices are also very important for Heliports and the AirMap platform makes it easy to gain information for all parties.
AirMap is also to talking to various cities through the country looking to build partnerships to help them with everything from enforcement to logging flights by drones operated by the local municipality. AirMap can offer transparency for city operator to alleviate privacy and other concerns.
AirMap still has a long way to go, but if they can start to build more partnerships with airports, municipalities and other authorities they could end up being part of a much wider drone traffic management system that can log, track and route drones for safe operation. AirMap has a good stating point and solid funding to deal with this evolving industry.
Chinese eCommerce Giant JD.com is at it again. Drone Dossier has previously reported on JD’s efforts to widen drone deliveries in China by working with local government entities. This time JD has partnered with the northern Chinese province of Shaanxi to set up a low altitude drone (UAV) logistics network covering the whole province.
It is reported that JD plans on using this network to operate large and medium sized UAVs that can carry tonnes of weight and travel up to 300 kilometers. If JD and Shaanxi officials can get things running as planned, it will be the first operating drone logistics network for package delivery in the world. Given JD’s efforts so far, it’s the opinion of Drone Dossier that JD will pull it off.
Right now reports out of China are not specific on exactly how the network is being set up. As more info comes in we will be sure to share it.
Back in the States, drone software company AirMap—whose software package helps manage drone traffic by providing uses with up-to-date data on airspace usage and restrictions around them—just raised $26 million in series B funding.
The AirMap app, available for free, helps drone uses plan flights and operate safely. On the back end, AirMap is working to make its platform a go-to choice for drone manufacturers, regulators (like the FAA), and airports to monitor and manage drone operations.
AirMap CTO Daniel Rubio recently said on AirMap’s blog that they are working to build a “new kind of map…a map for ‘things’ in addition to people, is a critical part of our vision for AirMap. We imagine a flexible, self-healing platform, capable of processing a tremendous amount of data about the current state of the airspace, and delivering a response that is computed and tailored to each specific flight in real time. We call this concept computational airspace, and we think it represents an important part of the future of the entire drone ecosystem.”