As the drone industry takes off, there is another industry taking off with it — the anti-drone industry.
San Diego-based startup SkySafe, which creates technology to disable drones from flying where Skydio’s customers don’t want them to, announced that it won a $1.5 million contract with the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide mobile counter-drone systems to Naval Special Warfare units. The company will be rolling out demos and tests over the next year and hopes to have its systems in place with the DoD by 2018.
SkySafe is able to detect and selectively control individual drones, largely via radio waves. Its systems are not available to the general public, but the company works with “qualified public safety customers.”
Drones that can be purchased for a few hundred dollars have been increasingly causing problems at major events. They have crashed into cyclists during races, and in 2015, a DJI Phantom drone crashed near the White House. Just last month, a drone crashed during a Padres game at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif. And in an event much like Thursday’s anticipated Warriors parade, a drone crashed into a woman, knocking her unconscious during Seattle’s 2015 Pride Parade. The drone operator was found guilty of reckless endangerment.
Anti-drone companies like SkySafe have grown in the past few years. DroneShield, for instance, sells a Dronegun, which is a jammer that can disrupt a drone’s remote control, forcing it to land or return to its starting point. In some European countries there are companies training eagles to take down drones midair. And San Francisco-based startup Dedrone has developed software that can detect drones in the vicinity before they even take off, and its software is already being used in a few prisons and for events, including during the 2016 presidential debate at Hofstra University and at the Golden State Warriors parade in Oakland, Calif.
Dedrone uses sensors, including RF/WiFi scanners, microphones and cameras to collect data and determine whether or not a drone is in a certain area, as well as analyze its flight path and the type of drone.
Skysafe also announced today announced that it closed $11.5 million in Series A funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
In 2016, the startup raised $3 million in seed funding in a round, also led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Founder Collective, SV Angel, and BoxGroup.
Andreessen Horowitz has invested in a number of drone companies including Airware, drone delivery companies Zipline and Matternet and drone auto-pilot startup Skydio.