SAN FRANCISCO. Enterprise unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) company Kittyhawk in San Francisco, California, has attracted the attention of enterprise professionals and investors, including aerospace businesses such as Boeing, and raised another $5 million in funding to further its capabilities as a full-stack enterprise UAS solution to empower various industries already realizing value from commercial unmanned aircraft, or drone, operations.
Kittyhawk recognized early on that enterprises were moving UAS programs in-house and that piloting a UAS would become a skill, rather than a profession. It left enterprises wanting to in-house their UAS program with a big dilemma: the wide and ever-changing array of apps, license agreements, support procedures, and data security concerns of having multiple vendors, officials say.
Kittyhawk's enterprise solution unifies the mission, the aircraft, and the data to enable companies to manage in-house UAS operations large and small. From one singular platform, enterprises can manage the complexity of operators, aircraft, airspace, data analytics, insights, and compliance to maximize safety and ROI.
"Kittyhawk is in the unique position of being central to all of the enterprise stakeholders -- from data collectors to data consumers," said Michael Blades, Senior Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. "Therefore, their market spans across a multitude of industries and verticals, they go deeper and wider than any other solution currently in the market."
As a vocal advocate for the commercial drone ecosystem, Kittyhawk champions level playing fields, open standards, and responsible legislation around creating a UAS Traffic Management System (UTM). As the UTM matures, Kittyhawk will continue to work with the FAA, NASA, and Industry Trade Associations, as well as mature its product to further empower commercial customers.
"When paired with the broad portfolio of complementary data service offerings within Boeing, Kittyhawk is poised to help us shape the future of safe autonomous flight," said Brian Schettler, Managing Director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures. "Boeing's partnership with Kittyhawk on the FAA Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program heralds the continued maturation of the commercial drone industry. We are excited to continue to explore new capabilities made possible through foresight, expertise and a focus on holistic solutions that support the safe integration of unmanned systems into the national airspace."
As enterprises integrate and scale the number of drones in their workflow, they will be searching for ways to increase their oversight. Kittyhawk's artificial intelligence-powered feature, Hawkeye, will help fewer people manage a rapidly increasing number of flights, particularly as autonomous operations come to fruition. Kittyhawk will use the same technology that genetic researchers are using to find cures for debilitating diseases and the same technology that search engines are using to surface insights from the entirety of humanity's knowledge base, officials say.
"We were blown away by the quality of Kittyhawk's enterprise customer base: Fortune 500 companies who themselves are leading the way in enterprise UAS adoption," says Jim Andelman, at Bonfire Ventures, who will be joining the Kittyhawk Board of Directors. "We were impressed by not only this current level of traction but also by the team's thoughtfulness about the coming evolution of this industry. With their degree of forethought and vision, we're confident that Kittyhawk will be well positioned to continue to lead the way. They're two steps ahead of how we heard everyone else thinking about this space."
Jim Andelman, managing partner of Bonfire Ventures, a Santa Monica-based seed fund focused on enterprise software, led the round with participation by Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Freestyle Capital;Kluz Ventures' The Flying Object also participated as a returning investor.
The company's total capital raised to date is $6.5 million.
Kittyhawk was founded in March 2015 and is composed of top-tier talent in both the aviation and technology sectors. Since its founding, Kittyhawk has built a team that is dedicated to helping create a safety culture in the commercial drone industry and has a passion for creating delightful experiences via a "product first" methodology. It's this methodology and culture that has allowed Kittyhawk to outmaneuver competitors and draw the attention of aviation incumbents.