The global market potential for commercial use of drones is predicted to become worth more than US $127 billion according to PWC estimates. However recent drone disruptions around Gatwick, Newark and Frankfurt airports highlight the fact that growing deployment of drones gives rise to several challenges including safety, security and privacy for the industry.
These concerns need be resolved rapidly at the national and international level to unleash the market for commercial BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) flights. Notably rapid efforts are underway in European countries to ensure requisite legislation falls into place and to pressure implementation of the recently published new European regulation by 2020; the US and rest of the world are not far behind either.
Now, Antwerp-based start-up Unifly Unifly NV, provider of unmanned traffic management (UTM) software for drone enablement is developing unmanned traffic management (UTM) software for drones with the aim of safely integrating them into the airspace. The start-up has just completed a €17 million Series B round from investors including Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS – the national air traffic control authority of Germany) and Belgium’s Federal Holding and Investment Company (FPIM). Unifly previously raised a €5 million round in 2016.
Existing investors Terra Drone, QBIC, and PMV also participated in the round. Bryan, Garnier & Co., Europe’s growth investment bank, advised Unifly on this transaction. Unifly’s most recent investor is Belgium’s Federal Holding and Investment Company (SFPI-FPIM).
Marc Kegelaers, CEO of Unifly: “Bryan, Garnier & Co the investment banker helped Unifly secure this successful B-round. This funding round will enable Unifly to continue building its world-leading features and to expand the product offering. This now includes the BLIP which acts as an electronic license plate for drones, combined with high-precision drone tracking.
Unifly is the leading provider of UTM software worldwide, enabling the tracking and management of drones alongside commercial aviation in order to provide visibility on where drones can fly, request and provide flight approvals, manage potential conflicts and implement regulations including no-fly zones. The company has won national level contracts with the ANSPs of Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Austria, and is the selected provider in several US regions including the pioneering NuAir North Eastern UAS flight corridor and research site. Unifly manages drone corridors in Japan and Malawi among others and is a selected technology provider for the US FAAs LAANC program.
DFS brings considerable experience and reach to Unifly as the ANSP in one of Europe’s leading drone markets and as a provider of air traffic control services on an international level, including to Gatwick and Prestwick airports. Terra Drone provides reach into the fast developing markets of Asia.
Talking about the future Kegelaers adds, “We will continue to grow our international presence and secure additional contracts in the global UTM ‘land grab’. Future markets could be even larger, with the rise of air taxis, with integration between autonomous cars and drones, and with drone UTM software predicted to take over traditional aircraft as they become increasingly automated.”
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