DroneUp Acquires Airmap: Another Move Towards Drone Ops on a Very, Very Big Scale
DroneUp acquires AirMap: combining global airspace management with DroneUp’s network, fleet, and infrastructure.
Tom Walker, DroneUp’s CEO, doesn’t do things by halves. DroneUp has grown swiftly as a drone services provider; developing proprietary software, infrastructure, and a robust, well-trained pilot network. They’ve been instrumental in defining the boundaries of what can be accomplished within the confines of existing regulations, showing value while flying within visual line of sight (VLOS). With a major investment from one of the world’s largest retailers – Walmart – DroneUp has secured a place on the front lines of drone delivery, establishing the first multi-site Walmart drone delivery operation – and setting the stage for one of the first large scale drone delivery programs in the world.
Walmart presents an opportunity for drone delivery services on a huge scale in the U.S. Walmart has unique advantages in the drone delivery realm. Unlike Amazon drone delivery programs, which naturally struggle to reconcile the distance between warehouses and customers, 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store. And, as the pandemic shows, those customers are becoming more accustomed to ordering items for delivery or pickup, rather than shopping in the retail environment. Now, as DroneUp acquires AirMap, the company is buying technology that will enable them to push rapidly forward toward expanding drone services beyond visual line of sight – quickly.
“Ultimately achieving BVLOS operations at scale will not hinge upon a single airframe, software, or technology. Rather, it will be the careful aggregation of the very best solutions. As we continue to enhance our proprietary platforms, we aggressively analyze the market for potential partnerships, investments, or acquisitions with compelling solutions,” DroneUp CEO, Tom Walker, tells DRONELIFE.
“Already supporting as many as 100,000 flights per day, Airmap’s industry-leading products will immediately impact our ability to scale operations. Additionally, the information collected will create safer skies and allow for insights and capabilities that can only have value with scale.
AirMap was one of the first, and most widely used, airspace intelligence systems, and the company evolved to enter the UTM space. AirMap’s Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) service and comprehensive flight data “will help DroneUp establish market and regulatory leadership, and further advance safe last-mile drone services,” says a company press release.
“As drone flight volume increases, safely managing flights is beyond human scale and requires an automated system to plan, request clearance, and factor in potential hazards and airspace restrictions. The AirMap platform advances safety for DroneUp’s operations, while also providing advantages for other drone operators to publish their flight plans promoting uniform safety.”
While the AirMap solutions will enable DroneUp to scale operations for their services, DroneUp is committed to continuing to make the AirMap solution available to the industry.
“We’ve integrated with the best aerospace teams to bring drone delivery and flight services to market faster and more economically with our patented flight management software, and now the industry’s number one UTM solution,” said DroneUp CEO Tom Walker. “We believe DroneUp has a moral obligation to continue investment in and expansion of the AirMap platform. We will ensure this resource remains openly available to the drone industry, municipalities, and the FAA.”
“Not only is AirMap a UTM company, they are also a global leader in digital automated air traffic management (ATM) with a best-in-class market share, geographic footprint, and seamless platform technology that supports stakeholders across several ecosystems,” said John Vernon, DroneUp’s CTO and representative to the FAA’s Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). “Transformative advances in technology are driving positive change for society, fueling decarbonization, de-congestion, and the democratization of transportation. UTM is a key enabler to high-density drone and urban air mobility (UAM) operations while unlocking autonomy and flight safety at scale. We look forward to continuing positive innovation.”
“We are excited to be joining the DroneUp team,” said Ben Marcus, co-founder of Airmap. “Since its inception, AirMap has worked to create a future where drones deliver value to millions of people in their everyday lives. DroneUp is also committed to this mission, and through its resilient, extensible network and partnership with Walmart, I am confident that we are going to create this reality.”
DroneUp operates commercially throughout the U.S. and is an authorized government drone services provider for 13 states serving public sector organizations. It has more than 190 active waivers and authorizations with the FAA. AirMap is one of three UTM providers currently deployed internationally and provides UTM in Switzerland with a geographic footprint and customer base stretching from North America to Europe, Southeast Asia, and Australia.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
Subscribe to DroneLife here.