Commercial Drone Platform Airware Raises $25 Million

Though the company is awaiting FAA regulation of commercial drones, it already has early customers around the globe.

Airware, a platform for commercial drone development, announced Wednesday it raised $25 million in financing as it prepares to launch later this year.

The series B round, led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz and First Round Capital, brings Airware's total fundraising to date to $40 million. As part of the deal, Kleiner Perkins partner Mike Abbott will join the company's board. Airware intends to use this funding to expand its engineering, sales, marketing, and customer support teams.

Airware doesn't manufacture drones; instead, it sells software and hardware, including cameras and aviation transponders, to commercial operators of autonomous drones. "It's not drone itself, but the brain of the drones, if you can think of it that way," founder and CEO Jonathan Downey tells Fast Company. "We can tailor drones for particular applications."

Its aerial information platform can help companies collect, analyze, and disseminate data while complying with regulations. Airware already has some early customers from around the world, including French company Delta Drone and Australian company Cyber Technology. "In many other countries, they have more mature regulation, like France, for example," Downey says, "or there are no regulations, but there also aren't prohibitions for commercial drones."

The Federal Aviation Administration has yet to issue guidance for commercial drones; the agency is supposed to develop a plan to integrate commercial drones into U.S. skies by September 2015, but it seems it will miss that deadline.

[Image: Flickr user Rawdonfox]

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