Dev

Edgybees raises $9.5 million for AI that augments drone camera footage


Edgybees, a provider of georegistration and augmented reality tools for drone operators, today announced that it raised $9.5 million, bringing its total raised to $15 million. The company says the proceeds will be used to drive product research, expand global adoption, and support an “aggressive” hiring strategy.

The commercial drone market was already accelerating, with reports the industry would grow more than fivefold by 2026 from the $1.2 billion it was reportedly worth in 2018. But the pandemic has increased demand for drone services in areas such as medical supply deliveries and site inspections. Honeywell, a major supplier of aerospace systems, launched a new business unit covering drones, air taxis, and unmanned cargo delivery vehicles. And in early January, startup American Robotics snagged the first-ever U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to fly automated drones beyond the line of sight.

Palo Alto, California-based Edgybees was cofounded in 2017 by Adam Kaplan, Nitay Megides, and Menashe Haskin. Haskin was formerly an engineering manager at Amazon, where he headed the software team for Amazon’s Fire TV platform and the Amazon Prime Air development site in Israel.

Edgybees claims its platform addresses the challenge of piloting drones with decreased air visibility from flames, smoke, and chemical spills. The company augments live video feeds from drones with geoinformation layers like maps, building layouts, points of interest, user-generated markers, and more captured from cameras or other data sources, leveraging a combination of computer vision, data analytics, and video synthesis.

Edgybees

Above: Edgybees’ augmented reality overlays.

Image Credit: Edgybees

Edgybees’ technology was first applied to an augmented reality racing game for drones, released in partnership with DJI in early 2017. Later that year, Edgybees debuted First Response, a drone flying app first deployed by officials operating in the Florida Keys in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. First Response was also used by local authorities to track firemen’s locations during the Northern California fires in October 2018, according to Edgybees.

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More recently, 36-employee Edgybees was awarded a contract from the U.S. Air Force following a round of awards the company received at the end of 2019, some from AFventures’ Strategic Finance Program (StratFi). And in March, Edgybees inked a deal with AFWerx, an innovation program within the US Air Force, to integrate its technology with the U.S. Air Force’s systems.

“During COVID-19 we have seen a massive growth in advanced drone delivery, homeland security and space technologies,” Kaplan told VentureBeat via email. “Edgybees provides high precision geo-tagging of real time video feeds allowing patients to receive their medicine on-time, search and rescue teams to save lives during fires and hurricanes, and enables defense, public safety and critical infrastructure industries to make crucial decisions in real-time.”

New investors Seraphim Capital Refinery Ventures, LG Technology Ventures, and Kodem Growth Partners participated in Edgybees’ latest round of fundraising. OurCrowd, 8VC, Verizon, and Motorola also participated.

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