Portland, Oregon-based Skyward announced on Tuesday a $1.5 million round of funding from the region’s biggest venture capital firm, Voyager Capital.
Founded by ex-Army pilot Jonathan Evans, Skyward (originally called Rising Tide Innovations) is building a platform to help manage drone traffic in the years to come. The Skyward system offers live, seamless communication between drone operators and customers, automated regulatory compliance and integrated insurance and risk management.
The funding couldn’t come at a better time. Amazon’s recent petition to the FAA for exemption from the administration’s blanket ban on commercial drone flights indicates the Seattle-based internet giant is developing its drone delivery platform at breakneck speed.
Before Amazon puts its drones into practical use, the unmanned aircraft community has to convince the general population that drones are as safe as they are beneficial.
As a result, the ultimate goal of Skyward is safety.
“There is a standard of safety that we can demonstrate,” Evans told The Oregonian, “Before Jeff Bezos can deliver in the city of Portland, we need to develop these aerial corridors that are safe. We are drawing that map.”
There is certainly a need for this kind of technology; even NASA is working on a similar project, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Traffic Management System. Perhaps a collaboration between the newly funded Skyward and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is exactly what is needed to open the floodgates of the commercial drones industry.