DroneDeploy raises $2M for UAS smartphone tech

By Emily Aasand | October 01, 2014

DroneDeploy, an unmanned aerial systems software and technology developer, has raise $2 million in funding from multiple investors, including SoftTech VC, Data Collective, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Red Point Ventures. The San Fransisco-based company currently offers a unique software known as the CoPilot that can connect an unmanned aerial vehicle to an internet feed, eliminating the need for ground-based operational control.

“The CoPilot talks to the autopilot [in the drone] and is able to give it high-level instructions,” said Jono Millin, co-founder of DroneDeploy. “We can tell the CoPilot to map a certain area, the CoPilot will then instruct the autopilot and it will also trigger the sensors in the cameras to get high-quality images.”

The CoPilot is connected to the internet removing the middlemen who once had to be on the ground communicating with the drone throughout the flight, according to the company.

“Instead of going out to the field and having a big table full of antennas and big tracking panels, you’re out there with a cell phone and the drone that you want to use to capture the data with and that’s all you need,” said Millin.

Following DroneDeploy’s U.S. inception in 2013, its biggest customers have come from the agriculture, surveying and construction fields, due to the easy use of the technology and data retrieval.

“I think what’s unique about our platform is the way it was built to connect with the cloud,” said Millin. “We really simplified all of the steps required to actually get data out from the other end.”

The data is accessible in Real-Time to anyone through DroneDeploy’s website and web application available on smartphones. According to the company, the application allows the client to navigate through the images similar to what Google Maps and Google Earth allows. DroneDeploy also has the option for exporting the data to a client’s preferred software.

DroneDeploy provides customer training through a remote internet feed.

“When somebody switches on their drone, we have a support staff online that will walk them through the set up process and will walk them through how the whole software solution works,” said Millin. “We can actually view their drone and help clients set parameters remotely and we can even give them support while they’re out flying.”

Millin also hopes DroneDeploy can be an enabler by making it as easy as possible for the people on the ground to get results in a safe and reliable fashion.

“I think that’s one of the big pieces we’re trying to bring to the puzzle,” said Millin. “We’re trying to simplify the entire process from not just planning a flight but actually getting that data out on the other side.”