- Ben Marcus, Gregory McNeal
Why It's Disruptive
AirMap is aiming to be in the right place at the right time--and for co-founder and CEO Ben Marcus, that's in the sky. As more drones fill the air, Marcus's company wants to be the data platform that makes them safer. AirMap provides real-time, low-altitude airspace information and services (like weather conditions and local airspace rules), essentially letting you know if there are any flight restrictions where you want to fly your drone. The service is free for drone operators but comes with a fee for airspace managers such as universities and navigation service providers.
Industry players like Microsoft, Airbus, Qualcomm, Yuneec, and Sony have poured in $26 million in Series B funding, betting alongside AirMap that drones are ready to evolve from impressive toys to the future of package delivery and transportation. Other major players are also paying attention: Marcus says the Federal Aviation Administration, Amazon, Rakuten, and Intel are all working with AirMap in some way. Drones from top manufacturers DJI and 3DRobotics come with AirMap data and services already installed, and flight apps and ground control stations use AirMap data as well.
AirMap isn't the only company in this airspace game. There are several others that manage drone flights, such as Skyward (acquired by Verizon) and the FAA's app B4UFly. Google announced on June 7 that the company successfully completed a series of tests for its own air traffic management platform for drones, Project Wing, and Amazon is also working on low-altitude air traffic control solutions. The rush to manage the skies is on. --Jennifer Eum