Top 10 Drone Startups

Commercial drone startups are flying high in 2015.

High-profile startups such as 3D Robotics have, between them, already raised a significant $50 million in funding this year. Major companies such as General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) are investing to help fund the take-off of commercial unmanned vehicles (UAVs). Venture capital firms have already started to get on the drone bandwagon in 2014.

CBI Insights says that venture funding reached $108 million in 29 deals in 2014, more than double the previous year.

"Year-over-year funding increased 104% as venture firms including Lightspeed Venture Partners, GGV Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, among others, jumped into the drone space with sizeable bets," the analyst firm notes on its blog.

Drones in the Field
Drones are already being used in the farming sector -- just ask this cow!
Drones are already being used in the farming sector -- just ask this cow!

Not all of these bets will pay off, of course. There are still wide differences in how commercial drones are regulated around the world. Issues such as how to set up traffic control systems for this new class of aircraft are yet to be fully resolved and are particularly crucial in the US, which has a number of privately owned aircraft flying in its airspace that are not equipped with the type of sophisticated location equipment used by military aircraft or commercial jet-liners. (See FAA Lays Out First Proposal for Small Drones .)

Standards around developing and programming drones are also an issue. (See Qualcomm, Intel Back Drones Code Project.)

Learn more about the role of drones in communications and the Internet of Things (IoT) at our upcoming DroneComm 2015 event in Atlanta on May 6.

Drones, however, are already starting to claim their place as the aerial wing of the Internet of Things (IoT): Initial applications include capturing footage for movies, TV, and documentaries, and data collection for agricultural and construction projects.

Early communications-specific applications will include using drones to provide ad-hoc, temporary wireless coverage for first responders. This could expand into more ambitious networking projects in the coming years, with Facebook and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) pushing ambitious plans for high-altitude communications drones. (See Forget the Internet, Brace for Skynet.)

As this market develops, which startups are making their mark? We picked out ten to watch -- check out the details on the next two pages of this Prime Reading report.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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linkedin45955 10/21/2016 | 3:59:14 PM
Drone startup in toronto This startup named DreamQii seem to deliver some really decent camera drones. I just browsed through their videos and foudn that their drones can be assembled in a min and are compatible with most of the action cameras out there, check it out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycGujzu2mnM
tinaamurphy 9/11/2015 | 8:49:05 AM
Amazing The invention of the dron is the big step for the science. I write an essay about my own vision of this with editing of http://www.trustessays.com/best-essays. I remember when drones flew for the first time - no one believed in this before.

So many drones are there now! It's incredible. I believe in our bright future.
mhhf1ve 4/14/2015 | 5:13:13 PM
Also.. I wonder... How many different kinds of unique drone capabilities are there really?

There are autonomous drones -- and I assume there are many different ways to skin that cat using different kinds of sensors for different kinds of environments - indoor/outdoor/radiation-filled/etc.

There are consumer drones -- with cameras for capturing photos and videos for various kinds of hobbies, and other "fun" applications.

There are professional drones -- for delivering packages, or capturing data for mapping & analytics... 

In this top 10 list.. each seems to fit into consumer or commercial purposes -- except for the one that's designed a new kind of aerodynamic design for a drone.
mhhf1ve 4/14/2015 | 5:06:21 PM
so many drones... I'm curious if there's any estimate on how many drone startups there are now? It seems like there are so many different VC backed robotics teams that *could* be doing a kind of drone.. that it might be a difficult industry to really follow.
mhhf1ve 4/13/2015 | 8:08:05 PM
Solar powered drones! The Sunlight Photonics drone sounds really cool... if it can fly indefinitely just on solar power. (okay.. from sunrise until sunset isn't indefinitely, but if there's a battery pack that lasts through the night...)

nasimson 4/7/2015 | 11:53:00 PM
The next BIG drone .. Didnt know drone space was this hot. It seems that one of these startups will hit on the next big thing. My personal favorite is Skyworks industrial drone that can circumvent FAA's regulations simply because it can fly indoors.
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