Drone software startup AirMap may have lost one major partnership over the past year, but it’s looking to make up for the lost by making five other partnerships. Most of them involve drone air traffic control — referred to in industry jargon as UTM (unmanned traffic management).
AirMap today announced a new partnership with Fortem Technologies to provide C-UAS solutions. The news bits today follows-up on three new partnerships announced yesterday. AirMap announced a nationwide strategy for the utilization of UAS, in the Czech Republic called SmartSky, created in partnership with the Air Navigation Service of the Czech Republic (ANS CR). Drone operators in the Czech Republic can use a mobile application, powered by AirMap, to access U-space services (U-space is the term used to refer to Europe’s first national drone traffic management system) that have been localized to the Czech language.
And Skyguide, the Swiss air navigation service provider announced the trial phase for automated flight authorizations and services for drones, done in partnership with AirMap in Swiss airspace. As part of the trial phase, select drone operators in Switzerland (including drone delivery company Matternet) can request automated and manual flight authorization to fly in airspaces in the cantons of Lugano and Geneva through the skyguide U-space mobile application.
And finally, AirMap and Honeywell together launched a drone tracking solution that the pair say is “cost-effective,” providing airspace safety authorities with safe manned and unmanned aircraft operations within airspaces. That product is intended to allow operators to broadcast real-time drone telemetry feeds to a UTM system either through 4G or, in areas without 4G coverage, satellite. The AirMap UTM Platform ingests telemetry feeds from a variety of hardware- and software-based solutions for visualization, monitoring, and deconfliction by air navigation service providers (ANSP) and other relevant authorities.
All the news was made at World ATM Congress in Madrid, Spain this week. The news comes at the heels of major drone disruptions in Europe recently, included a scare at Gatwick airport that ended up grounding flights and leaving hundreds of passengers delayed.
AirMap took a hit last fall when DJI announced it was now partnering with drone software company PrecisionHawk as its new provider of airspace data in North America, replacing former provider AirMap.
Drone behemoth DJI said the move would “(improve) its geofencing technology to refine the airspace limitations for drone flights near airports, in order to provide smarter protection for airplanes in critical areas.”
But it has made other strides between then and now, including partnering with Project Wing, the drone division of X (the company formerly known as Google), and San Francisco-based startup Kittyhawk to show proof of a system of electronically identifying drones overhead. Each of the three companies independently flew drones (of course Project Wing conducted a drone delivery) — but each of the drone operators were able to use the system to tell which drones were flying nearby. Successful tests like that could be what it takes to allow for more widespread, legal drone use in the U.S., experts say.
AirMap also faces competition from companies like Unifly, Altitude Angel and Intel-funded Delair.