Former Google, Facebook exec just joined a multimillion dollar drone company

The new Chief Operating Officer at  Airobotics is bringing with him chops from Facebook and Google.

The Israeli-based drone startup announced today that Richard Wooldridge would be its new Chief Operating Officer. Wooldridge previously served as the COO at Facebook’s Building 8, which worked to build experimental hardware products such as augmented reality glasses, a smart speaker, video conferencing device and a human-computer interface capable of turning people’s thoughts into digital actions. He also worked previously as COO for Google’s Advanced Technology and Products Group.

Airobotics is the first company in the world to be granted authorization to fly fully automated drones without a pilot, as licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel. The startup has developed a platform that is fully automated, industrial grade, on-demand and multi-purpose. Its features include a robotic arm for automatic payload and battery loading and an emergency landing parachute.

Related read: 6 things drone enthusiasts should look out for at SXSW (including Amazon drones!)

Wooldridge had previously been an investor in Airobotics. The company secured $42.5 million in its latest funding round, and its other investors include BlueRun Ventures China, as well as Microsoft Ventures and OurCrowd.

The U.S. military’s Defense Innovation Unit is experimenting with anti-drone detection

The U.S. military is turning its attention to anti-drone detection.

The  Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), which is a United States Department of Defense (DoD) organization focused on how the U.S. military can use emerging technologies, this week announced a partnership with Dedrone, a San Francisco-based startup building drone detection software.

DIUx is experimenting with Dedrone’s technology to provide situational awareness of drone activity over protected sites, according to a news release. Dedrone has worked with the DoD previously through a two-month airspace activity survey with Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Washington, D.C. During this time, Dedrone and JBM-HH detected unauthorized drones infiltrating the airspace, despite the area being a no-fly zone. Continue reading The U.S. military’s Defense Innovation Unit is experimenting with anti-drone detection

DroneDeploy snags massive deal with world’s largest software distributor

SoftBank, the world’s largest software distributor, announced this month that drone software company DroneDeploy will be the only cloud drone software solution distributed on its ecosystem.

It’s a big move that means DroneDeploy has the opportunity to become an operating system for drones all over the world.

DroneDeploy is a San Francisco-based drone startup that enables professional-grade 3D modeling , imagery and analysis from a variety of drones. Continue reading DroneDeploy snags massive deal with world’s largest software distributor

Kittyhawk’s Sonal Baid: ‘startup culture is playing a major role in defining the drone industry’

The drone industry may be ruled by a few major players, but much of the industry is driven by the industry’s many startups.

The government has largely depended on startups to propel its initiatives forward, such as its Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) drone program.

And one of the company’s looking to make a big difference in the drone industry is Kittyhawk, a San Francisco-based software startup.

The startup’s product strategy and product management teams are led by Sonal Baid, an aerospace engineer who has been with the company for about a year. She spoke with The Drone Girl about her predictions for the industry, the biggest surprises when it comes to drones and how startup culture is driving the industry forward.

Sonal Baid kittyhawk drone girl india
Courtesy Sonal Baid

Drone Girl: How did your background in aerospace engineering get you to where you are today in the drone industry?

Sonal Baid: From my very first childhood memories, I remember two things, going to the park with my grandfather and going to my small town airport with my dad every Sunday, just to watch airplanes take off and land. I have always been super excited about machines, especially flying machines. Continue reading Kittyhawk’s Sonal Baid: ‘startup culture is playing a major role in defining the drone industry’

Yuneec partners with Parrot to put Pix4D’s mapping software in its commercial drones

As drone companies look to compete with  drone industry king DJI, two companies have come up with a unique strategy: combine resources and team up.

Yuneec, a Chinese drone manufacturer known mostly for its Typhoon hobby drone, has partnered with Pix4D, a 3D mapping software company owned by French drone manufacturer Parrot, which is known for its Bebop and AR toy drones.

Pix4D yuneec h520 Parrot
A screengrab of the Pix4D software.

The two companies announced this week that Parrot’s  Pix4Dcapture software would now be available on Yuneec’s H520 ST16S ground station controller. The software gives users the ability to create georeferenced maps and models from drone imagery, Pix4D capture is used in verticals such as law enforcement, inspection and construction, where drone pilots can customize flight plans and parameters and view maps in multiple orientations. Continue reading Yuneec partners with Parrot to put Pix4D’s mapping software in its commercial drones

This drone insurance company will alter your rate based on your safety score

Looking to get a lower drone insurance rate? Prove you’re a “safe” pilot, and you may pay less than everyone else.

Drone insurance company SkyWatch launched an insurance plan in partnership with insurance and financial services organization Starr Companies. The plan determines insurance rates based upon a pilot’s safety score.

To use it, pilots need to download SkyWatch’s mobile app, where they input their flight plan, enabling the app to gather data based on potential hazards like crowds, roads and airports. The software can analyze what happened during the flight, and give a safety score. Once a pilot has made at least five flights, they are eligible to receive reduced insurance rates based upon their safety score. The app  works with a variety of drones, including DJI drones. Continue reading This drone insurance company will alter your rate based on your safety score

DJI is having a big spring sale, offering up to 20% off AND gift-with-purchase incentives

Looking to scoop up a DJI Mavic for 20% off? How about some free memory cards?

Chinese drone manufacturer DJI is running a big spring sale on its drones and accessories, and the deals are Black Friday-worthy.

Here are the best deals:

DJI Spark ($499) on sale for $399, PLUS free remote controller, valued at $149

DJI Mavic Pro ($999) on sale for $899, PLUS a free extra battery

DJI Mavic Pro Fly More Combo ($1,299) on sale for $1,149

Here is a complete list of ALL the deals. Check them out! Continue reading DJI is having a big spring sale, offering up to 20% off AND gift-with-purchase incentives

FAA seeking more LAANC suppliers months after industry criticism about “ol’ boy’s club forming”

The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking more applicants to participate as a supplier in its Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) drone program.

A month after announcing that it would  expand tests of its real-time approval processing program to 500 airports by the fall of this year, the FAA wants more companies to supply LAANC services.

The LAANC program allows drone operators to use an interface from one of four providers that were hand-picked by the FAA — AirMap, Project Wing (an entity of X, formerly known as Google), Rockwell Collins and Skyward — to request approval to fly in restricted airspace. Operators would then receive approval almost instantly.

That instantly speeds up the ability to legally fly in controlled airspace such as near airports — a cumbersome process that had required individual applications and took months. Continue reading FAA seeking more LAANC suppliers months after industry criticism about “ol’ boy’s club forming”