Airspace Systems raises $20 million Series A to take down dangerous drones with other drones

Lucas Matney
TechCrunch
Airspace Systems raises $20 million Series A to take down dangerous drones with other drones
Airspace Systems raises $20 million Series A to take down dangerous drones with other drones

There's more than one way to get a drone out of the sky.

While many companies are looking to tech that digitally jam signals to land rogue drones, one startup is taking a more theatrical approach with a speedy drone that races at 2-3 times the speed of the fastest consumer options and takes down enemy drones that may not pop up on competitor's systems.

Airspace Systems has built what it calls "kinetic capture" technologies, which currently consists of a ground-based system that identifies an offending unmanned aircraft, then launches its own drone to chase it down, fire a tethered net at it and carry it away.

Here's a look the whole system in action from a video we did with Airspace back in 2016.

Now, since we shot that video, Airspace Systems has shifted attention from simply launching nets to building drone-focused autonomous systems that will allow their systems to track down other drones on their own. The company says that more than two-thirds of its 32 employees are currently working on technologies related to autonomous drone flight.

"We don't rely on just one technology anymore, we really include machine vision, onboard radar, lidar -- all of these different sensing technologies -- to enable us to fly in a variety of environments and do this capture mission," Airspace Systems COO Todd Komanetsky told TechCrunch.

As the company scales its ambitions, it's raising more money as well. Airspace has closed a $20 million Series A funding round, TechCrunch has exclusively learned. The round was led by Singtel Innov8 with s28 Capital, Shasta Ventures and Granite Hill Capital Partners also participating. The startup has now raised $25 million to date.

The company's announcement comes as it grows even clearer how large the market for these technologies could be.

Just last week, word emerged that the White House is going to be proposing that law enforcement gain the ability to track and disable civilian drones. As is the case with many facets of the tech industry, legislation has been slow to catch up with the rapidly advancing technologies of the drone industry. Airspace saw the writing on the wall for this one though and the company's CEO Jaz Banga sits aboard the FAA's Drone Advisory Committee alongside representatives from companies like DJI, Amazon and Facebook.

“Demand for protecting stadiums, commercial buildings, power plants and, for that matter, any other public venues from potential drone threats is growing rapidly,”  Singtel Innov8 managing director Jeff Karras said in a statement. “There are a number of important drone defense technologies flooding the market but there has not been one which integrates all the best capabilities under a single platform until the solutions developed by Airspace.”

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