Iris Automation Raise Funding as Startup Develops New Drone Tech

By Thomas Price Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The rate of tech innovation has been speeding up in 2020, and as a result, the various startups specializing in specific roles have grown as well. One of the industries experiencing this fast growth within the startup realm has been drone technology, and Iris Automation, a drone tech company, has made a major mark in this field. The startup has developed new avoidance and logistics technology that could be a major asset to the drone industry in the coming year. The company’s recent round of funding proves that they are not alone in this belief.

What Is Iris Automation?

Iris Automation is a startup based out of San Francisco that is developing computer vision technology, which, among many things, can help drones detect and avoid other drones. This technology prevents collisions, which are becoming a growing concern for many companies and governments as they are increasingly integrated into logistics and delivery.

The company is creating this technology by using an optical camera-based obstacle avoidance system that works in tandem with computer vision. This combination ensures that even if a pilot is not constantly operating the drones throughout their entire journey, they will not crash or cause issues while flying. While this in itself is already a groundbreaking technology, it also provides a solution to an issue that many governments are currently facing in regard to the rise of drone technology.

For pilotless flying crafts, the FAA is struggling to find ways to properly regulate the industry and set proper standards across the board. Nearly half of current regulations focus specifically on pilots. As drones become more ubiquitous due to their use in a large scale economic manner, not having proper regulations presents significant challenges for the future scalability of drone usage within different industries. However, the creation of drone avoidance technology smooths out this issue quite a bit.

Iris Automation’s technology is going to prove extremely valuable for many companies planning on using drones. Instead of relying on one pilot for every single drone in the air, a business would now require a significantly smaller number of pilots, thus making it much easier to scale up the use of drones without increasing costs. As a result, the startup has drawn the eyes of several different investors with the foresight to understand the significance of this technology and its potential future demand in many industries as drone use expands.

Iris Automation’s Funding and Future Plans

In the startup’s Series B funding round, Iris Automation raised a respectable $13 million. The funding round was fueled by participation from Bee Partners, OCA Ventures, Sony Innovation Fund, and Verizon Ventures. Both Sony and Verizon were categorized as strategic investors with each offering significant benefit to Iris Automation beyond their actual funding. With Sony being a developer of the imaging sensor stack used by the startup as well as making their own drones, and Verizon offering access to a major connectivity network important for large drone fleets, their addition to Iris Automation’s team could help the startup grow even faster.

With this new funding, Iris Automation will continue to develop its technology as well as provide demonstrations to regulators to prove its efficacy. Considering the blistering growth of the drone industry and their many possible applications, Iris Automation’s collision avoidance technology could be the catalyst for proper regulations and, therefore, could be the bottleneck for nearly every major company planning to use drones in the future. The startup’s ceiling is really only as high as the entire drone industry wants it to be. If the company’s technology proves to be effective and scalable, the sky’s the limit.

About the Author


Headshot for author Thomas Price

Tom Price is a writer focusing on Entertainment and Sports Features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.

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