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  • May 27, 2015

    Airware Launches Commercial Drone Fund to Accelerate Innovation in Global Industry

    Inaugural investments are in cloud-based drone data analysis company Redbird and oil and gas data capture and analysis provider Sky-Futures

    SAN FRANCISCO – May 27, 2015 - With the goal of supporting the most promising commercial drone businesses around the world, Airware launched the Commercial Drone Fund today and announced the first two investment recipients. The fund is investing in companies that are developing technologies critical to scaling the use of drones across a variety of commercial applications.

    Airware’s Commercial Drone Fund is making $250,000 to $1 million investments in early-stage companies in the commercial drone ecosystem and will focus on five key areas: sensor hardware, software applications, cloud-based aerial data analysis tools, drone-based services, and complete solutions for specific industries. Initial funding recipients are Redbird, a cloud data analysis company in Paris, France; and London-based Sky-Futures, a leader in oil and gas data capture and analysis by commercial drone. The fund expects to invest in dozens of startups over the next two years.

    The Commercial Drone Fund is structured like a venture capital fund, with capital provided by limited partners. Airware’s CEO, Jonathan Downey, is the fund’s General Partner. Downey has more than 10 years of experience in aerospace and aviation: in academia at MIT, in industry at Boeing, as a commercial pilot flying the Dehavilland Twin Otter, and over the past four years building and scaling Airware in San Francisco. Downey has led Airware to raise over $40 million.

    “While the commercial drone industry is evolving rapidly, we still see gaps in the ecosystem. The Commercial Drone Fund will identify and boost the rising stars that are advancing important drone-related initiatives, such as powerful new sensors, intelligent analytics, or innovative field services,” said Downey. “I know how hard it is to raise early money in a new space and I want to help other entrepreneurs get further faster.”

    Airware works with an ecosystem of third-party hardware, software, and cloud services companies to help businesses tailor commercial drones to their specific needs. Many of the companies funded by the Commercial Drone Fund are leveraging Airware’s Aerial Information Platform, though it is not a requirement for funding. The fund is a separate legal entity from Airware, and Airware will not be an investor.

    “Redbird is known in Europe for having the most advanced drone data analytics for mining, construction, and infrastructure inspection. Our cloud-based platform for enterprises is designed to fit within existing Airware workflows. We are very excited by this investment as it validates the added-value we’re bringing in the drone ecosystem. Together with Airware and our partners, we’re ready to move to the next level and expand to the US – it’s a new step and a global development for our company,” said Emmanuel de Maistre, Co-Founder and CEO of Redbird.

    “We’re excited to be working with Jonathan Downey and the Commercial Drone Fund to shape the future of commercial drone technology to save time, cut cost, and improve safety for industry,” said James Harrison, co-founder and CEO of Sky-Futures. “Our solutions are already in use with over 35 of the biggest oil and gas companies globally. Investment from the Commercial Drone Fund will speed up the delivery of our technology roadmap and create more valuable data to our existing client base faster.”

    The fund will continue to invest in companies that have technologies that help solve complex challenges that businesses face when scaling drone operations. It will favor those who have traction with existing customers and a strong team with the technical knowledge and expertise needed to deliver on the company’s vision. To pitch your company, visit CommercialDroneFund.com.

    About the Commercial Drone Fund
    Airware’s Commercial Drone Fund is a VC-structured fund focused on early-stage startups developing technologies that are critical to scaling the use of commercial drones across a variety of applications. It makes investments in five key areas: sensor hardware, software applications, cloud-based aerial data analysis tools, drone-based services, and complete solutions for specific industries. For more information, visit CommercialDroneFund.com.

    Press Contact:
    The OutCast Agency
    dronefund@theoutcastagency.com
    415-392-8282

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  • April 16, 2015

    Airware Releases the Aerial Information Platform, the Industry's Most Comprehensive Operating System for Commercial Drones

    Highly flexible system combines hardware, software, and cloud services to enable enterprises to take full advantage of aerial data for commercial applications

    Company confirms GE as one of first enterprise customers

    SAN FRANCISCO – April 16, 2015 - Airware today unveiled its Aerial Information Platform (AIP), an operating system for commercial drones that combines hardware, software, and cloud services to enable enterprises to safely operate drones at scale, comply with regulatory and insurance requirements, and rapidly develop industry-specific drone solutions. The Airware AIP helps companies capture and analyze valuable aerial data for a wide variety of commercial applications, including infrastructure inspection, land management, public safety, environmental monitoring, surveying and mapping, precision agriculture, search and rescue, and wildlife conservation. In an industry that lacks standardization across the growing number of drone and sensor manufacturers, the Airware AIP brings a welcome solution by enabling flexible integration of a wide variety of compatible aircraft and an ecosystem of third-party sensors, cameras, software apps, and data analysis tools.

    The Airware AIP is unparalleled in its ability to support the needs of enterprise customers, whose biggest priorities include safety and reliability; corporate, regulatory, and insurance compliance; and scalability of data collection, analysis, and dissemination. No other platform is built and tested to high-quality aerospace standards and designed to scale for large companies. The AIP will offer aircraft fleet management, user authentication, data management, and the ability to integrate workflows and data with existing business systems, including enterprise resource planning (ERP), geographic information systems (GIS), and asset management. The platform is intuitive and easy to use, requires minimal training, and enables sophisticated autonomous flight with geofencing and contingency management features.

    “Commercial drones will change the way we do our jobs, improve our decision-making, and save lives. Today we launch the Aerial Information Platform, the operating system for commercial drones, to enable enterprises to put drones to work,” said Jonathan Downey, founder and CEO of Airware. “We designed the Aerial Information Platform for enterprise needs and created the most reliable, insurable, and extensible solution for operating commercial drones at scale. We look forward to helping customers capture aerial data and make it more useful and actionable than ever before.”

    GE will become Airware’s first large enterprise customer. Airware will work with GE on a variety of commercial drone applications for their customers. GE Ventures made an investment in Airware in November.

    “We are currently developing drone solutions for our customers,” said Alex Tepper, managing director at GE Ventures. “Drones have the ability to reduce downtime, increase safety, and provide more reliable operations for our customers and we believe that Airware is going to be a key partner in helping us deliver these solutions.”

    Airware’s platform has also been in use by a number of drone manufacturers and service providers from around the world as part of Airware’s beta program, including Delta Drone (France), Altavian (Florida), Allied Drones (California), and Drone America (Nevada). Today the AIP becomes available to additional qualified drone manufacturers.

    “We have been testing Airware’s product for a variety of applications in France, including mining surveys, precision agriculture, industrial inspection, and forestry,” said Christian F. Viguié, chairman and CEO of Delta Drone. “Airware provides the market with a full spectrum of products that bring real added value to our systems and enables us to develop new services to fulfill our customers’ needs. They are building a powerful ecosystem that unites this growing market.”

    Today Airware is releasing the first three components of its Aerial Information Platform – Flight Core, which includes on-aircraft hardware, and software enabling autonomous flight; Ground Control Station Software, for aircraft flight planning, control, and monitoring; and Configuration Manager, software that enables operators to quickly configure Airware and third-party hardware and software for use across a variety of aircraft and applications.

    In the coming months, Airware will enhance the AIP by releasing Airware Cloud, a suite of cloud features that will give operators the ability to plan and manage flight operations at greater scale, manage internal and external approvals, meet insurance, corporate, and government compliance requirements, analyze sensor data, and share information across their organization. With third-party integrations, the platform will help turn aerial data into meaningful insights via image and data processing services.

    This summer, the Airware App Core will further enhance the capabilities of the AIP by enabling additional customization of hardware and software on Airware-powered drones. App Core is a powerful quad-core computer providing a rich SDK enabling developers to create drone apps that can connect with the Flight Core, Ground Control Station Software, Airware Cloud, and third-party hardware and software. App Core will power image processing, advanced path planning, vision-based navigation and obstacle avoidance, real-time decision making, and will enable virtually any hardware to be made Airware-compatible, including LiDAR, multispectral cameras, thermal sensors, still and video cameras, gimbals, and more.

    Airware’s AIP is available by subscription, a business model targeted at aligning costs with a customer’s ability to generate revenue or ongoing cost savings by leveraging drones. The subscription includes hardware, software, cloud services, and support.

    Airware also announced today that it has received an undisclosed investment from Intel Capital, Intel’s global investment arm. Intel manufactures some of the high-performance, low-power processors that will power part of the AIP.

    About Airware
    Airware develops an operating system for commercial drones, allowing enterprises to take full advantage of aerial data for any commercial application. Airware’s Aerial Information Platform combines hardware, software, and cloud services to enable companies to quickly customize, efficiently manage, and safely and reliably operate commercial drones at scale. Based in San Francisco, Airware has gathered a cross-disciplinary team of experts in aerospace, robotics, geospatial, hardware, software, and cloud. Founded in 2011, Airware has raised more than $40 million to date from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, First Round Capital, Google Ventures, GE Ventures, and Intel Capital. For more information, visit Airware.com or @Airware on Twitter.

    About Intel Capital
    Intel Capital, Intel’s global investment organization, makes equity investments in innovative technology start-ups and companies worldwide. Intel Capital invests in a broad range of companies offering hardware, software, and services targeting enterprise, mobility, consumer Internet, digital media and semiconductor manufacturing. Since 1991, Intel Capital has invested more than US$11.4 billion in over 1,400 companies in 57 countries. In that timeframe, 211 portfolio companies have gone public on various exchanges around the world, and 366 were acquired or participated in a merger. In 2014, Intel Capital invested $359 million in 125 investments, including 59 new deals. For more information on what makes Intel Capital one of the world’s most powerful venture capital firms, visit www.intelcapital.com or follow @Intelcapital.

    Press Contact:
    The OutCast Agency
    airware@theoutcastagency.com
    415-392-8282

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  • November 19, 2014

    Airware Receives Investment from GE Ventures

    November 19, 2014 – Airware, creator of a hardware, software, and cloud services platform for commercial drone development and operation, announced today it has raised a strategic investment from GE Ventures, the investment arm of GE.

    GE and Airware will work together to identify ways that Airware’s platform can help deliver safer, more efficient solutions for GE’s industrial customer base and allow them to collect better data and make more informed decisions. Airware will use the funding to continue preparations for the commercial launch of its platform and continue to expand its engineering, sales, marketing, and customer support functions.

    “GE, a Fortune 50 company, sees commercial drones as a promising way to collect richer, faster and more effective data in a wide range of markets,” said Jonathan Downey, founder and CEO of Airware. “The company operates in more than 170 countries globally and across many industries, and we’re thrilled to provide it with a platform to explore the space further.”

    Alex Tepper, managing director of GE Ventures said, “Airware is at the heart of today’s commercial UAV ecosystem, and GE Ventures is excited to use this partnership to learn more about how drones can be used to meet the needs of our customers and business units.”

    Airware has raised over $40 million to date from leading venture capital firms and strategic investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Google Ventures, and GE Ventures.

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  • September 11, 2014

    Airware Partners with NASA to Develop a UAS Traffic Management System

    Airware has partnered with NASA to develop a UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system that will enable safe and efficient low-altitude UAS operations.

    Airware offers extremely robust flight control systems for the commercial market that allow for high levels of flexibility to operate a wide range of vehicles and payloads. In addition, Airware has an extensive list of partners who provide some of the best vehicles, payloads, sensors, and software in the commercial UAS space. Bringing this flexibility and ecosystem to the table will provide both NASA and Airware the ability to test and validate a wide range of scenarios to enable the development of the UTM system.

    “To build out a traffic management system for small UAS, you need to test a large number of aircraft - fixed-wing, multirotor, flying-wing, gas-powered, battery-powered and many others, to simulate what will exist in future operational scenarios” said Jesse Kallman, Airware’s Head of Business Development and Regulatory Affairs. “We’re excited to partner with NASA because our technology will allow us both to work towards a common goal of enabling safe and efficient commercial UAS operations, in addition to supplementing the work we are already conducting in the areas of collision avoidance and GPS denied flight, among others.”

    Under this partnership, Airware and NASA will have the ability to operate and test a diverse set of aircraft, sensors, and custom software, such as aircraft spacing, collision avoidance, 4D trajectory modeling, with the same interface and with the level of safety and reliability necessary for commercial use of UAS.

    “We look forward to working with NASA over the next several years as we continue to refine the technology so that UAS will be able to safely operate in the complex U.S. national airspace system,” said Kallman. “Just as we’ve worked closely with the FAA to anticipate regulatory needs, we look forward to this partnership with NASA and hope to help more rapidly introduce commercial UAS technology into the national airspace.”

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  • July 23, 2014

    Airware Raises $25 Million in Series B Financing

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    July 23, 2014 — Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) Leads Round; with Participation from Andreessen Horowitz and First Round Capital; KPCB’s Mike Abbott Joins Board

    Airware, creator of a hardware, software, and cloud services platform for commercial drone development and operation, announced today it has raised $25 million in Series B financing. Airware’s aerial information platform enables companies to use highly autonomous commercial drones to collect, analyze, and disseminate the data they need while complying with regulatory and insurance requirements. The latest round is led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) with participation from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and First Round Capital. Mike Abbott, general partner at KPCB, will join Airware’s board, which currently includes Jonathan Downey, Airware’s founder and CEO, and Chris Dixon, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz.

    This funding is part of Airware’s preparation for the commercial launch of its platform later this year and will be used to expand its engineering, sales, marketing, and customer support functions.

    “Commercial drones are creating a revolution in insights and countless industries around the world will soon benefit from access to aerial information that, until now, has been too difficult, dangerous, expensive or downright impossible to get,” said Airware CEO Downey. “To help organizations use drones for any commercial application, we’re building a platform that anyone can customize and build on top of. This funding will accelerate our efforts and we are extremely fortunate that high-caliber investors like Kleiner Perkins are partnering with Airware.”

    Downey founded Airware in 2011 after recognizing the need for a safe, reliable and flexible platform for commercial drone use. Airware’s platform enables customers to tailor drones to any commercial application by seamlessly connecting aircraft, sensors, payloads, and application-specific software. Airware began working with leading commercial drone companies as part of its beta program last year, including Delta Drone and Cyber Technology, and has partnered with researchers from MIT to evaluate the delivery of vaccines and medicines using a network of commercial drones. Late last year, Airware demonstrated drones for wildlife conservation and anti-poaching at Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Airware will launch the first version of its product for general availability later this year.

    “Building and operating commercial drones is extremely complex and could be radically simplified with a common, flexible platform, ” said KPCB’s Mike Abbott. “Airware recognized early the opportunity to apply drone intelligence to commercial applications, and is now at the forefront of an industry that will soon experience rapid global expansion. KPCB is excited to support Jonathan and the company on their path as they fuel the commercial drone ecosystem.”

    Abbott brings deep engineering and additional entrepreneurial leadership to Airware’s board, with particular expertise in building organizations and platforms. As former vice president of engineering at Twitter, he grew the engineering team from 80 to more than 350 engineers in less than 18 months to rebuild and solidify Twitter’s infrastructure to support hundreds of millions of daily tweets. Before joining Twitter, Abbott led the software development team at Palm that created HP/Palm’s next-generation webOS platform. Earlier in his career, Abbott was general manager of Microsoft’s .NET online services, which became Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform. He was also the founder of Composite Software (acquired by Cisco) and a co-founder of Passenger Inc.

    Airware has raised $40 million to date. The company received $12.2 million in Series A funding in May 2013, led by Andreessen Horowitz with Google Ventures, First Round Capital, and Felicis Ventures participating. It received seed financing from Google Ventures, First Round Capital, Firelake Capital, RRE Ventures, Shasta Ventures, Promus Ventures, and several Y Combinator partners. Airware is a graduate of both Lemnos Labs and Y Combinator incubators.

    Airware is located in San Francisco and is rapidly growing with more than 50 team members. For career opportunities, visit http://airware.com/careers.

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  • July 03, 2014

    Airware Team Heads to AUVSI

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    Airware is a proud exhibitor at AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems 2014 show. Our team is heading to Orlando, Florida May 12 - 15 to introduce Airware’s Aerial Information Platform for the development and safe operation of commercial drones.

    Meet the Team

    Come by and meet some of Airware’s 45-person team of UAV systems engineers, developers and professionals at the Airware booth #1451, where our customers and partners will show off how Airware powers their vehicles and helps them to engage in a variety of applications and deliver value to their customers.

    Join the Airware Ecosystem

    We are excited to showcase several of our partners’ UAS, including the MLB Superbat and Delta Drone fixed-wing airframes, as well as the Allied Drones and Delta Drone multi-rotor airframes. We’ll also showcase Airware Compatible software and hardware including Trillium gimbals, Tetracam multispectral cameras, Sagetech transponders, Laser Technology laser altimeters, and Persistent Systems communications systems, among others. To learn more about the partnership program, contact us.

    Meet with us at AUVSI

    Come by and speak with our engineers about how Airware’s Aerial Information Platform can safely and reliably power your commercial UAS. Interested in setting up a meeting with Airware at the show? Contact Jesse Kallman: jkallman@airware.com or 415.992.3901.

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  • July 03, 2014

    Poachers Beware: Airware Demonstrates a Drone to Protect African Rhinos

    While many people were holiday shopping, a team of Airware engineers traveled to Kenya to conduct field tests of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to protect rhinos from the threat of poachers. The successful tests demonstrated that drones can be a viable tool for wildlife conservation.

    “The commercial drone space is a major growth market with applications like precision agriculture, infrastructure inspection and search and rescue,” said Airware CEO Jonathan Downey. “In addition to our work developing the next-generation autopilot platform, we’re working on a project that our team cares a lot about — building a drone for conservation.”

    African wildlife is under constant threat. Kenya lost 50 rhinos in 2013 alone. Ol Pejeta is East Africa’s largest black rhino sanctuary and allocates the majority of its budget and personnel to protecting them and other at-risk species. Airware partnered with the Ol Pejeta Conservancy to demonstrate a drone specifically designed for conservation.

    The drone, equipped with Airware’s autopilot platform and control software, acts as both a deterrent and a surveillance tool, sending real-time digital video and thermal imaging feeds of animals – and poachers – to rangers on the ground using both fixed and gimbal-mounted cameras.

    In the event of an incident, the drone can help Ol Pejeta efficiently deploy a security team. And given its cost efficiencies relative to conventional aircraft, the technology will also make it possible for the conservancy to conduct wildlife censuses more frequently and at a fraction of the cost, providing more reliable data for managing its animal population.

    Although the drone conducts sophisticated missions, it requires only minimal training. A ranger can easily configure a flight plan using a simple mapping interface and launch a flight that is autonomous from launch to recovery. As it collects images as well as real-time video, the ranger can tell the aircraft where to go and where to point the camera.

    “The Airware control system is outstanding. It is so easy when something like this works, to take it for granted. This over delivered on my expectations in terms of both simplicity of use and sophistication of capabilities,” said Robert Breare, Commercial Director of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

    While at Ol Pejeta, Airware’s flight team tested multiple airframes including conventional fixed-wing and flying-wing. The team demonstrated bungee and wheeled launches, as well as parachute and wheeled landings. They also flew beyond line of sight testing both range of real-time digital video and contingency plans for loss of communications.

    Brian Richman, Airware Flight Director, recalls a real-world situation that put our autopilot platform to the test. “Our team was testing flight out of line of sight when a lawn mower ran over a cord to our transmitter causing us to lose communication with the aircraft. In the event of a loss of communication, the failsafe designed into our autopilot platform should return the drone home to land autonomously — which is exactly what happened.”

    Contingency plans for loss of communication are something the FAA is interested in as they develop U.S. regulations. Airware is providing feedback and expertise based on our operational experience to help the FAA as they develop rules and standards for how small UAVs will be operated in the national airspace.

    Airware’s team was thrilled with the autopilot platform’s performance during its two weeks at Ol Pejeta. Not only did the prototype have to withstand Kenya’s rugged landscape, it had to work effectively within the conservancy’s limited infrastructure.

    “It surpassed all of our expectations. We still have more development to do but we’re extremely encouraged and quite proud to be pioneering drones that can preserve some of our planet’s most threatened species,” said Downey.

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