Israel’s Airobotics raises $28.5m for operator-free drones

Investors include Noam Bardin, former chief executive of the Waze navigation app bought by Google

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Airobotics' drone platform  (Courtesy)
Airobotics' drone platform (Courtesy)

Israeli start-up Airobotics said today it has built a new kind of drone platform that will allow companies to operate drones without the need for expensive and skilled drone operators.

The Petah Tikva, Israel-based company said it has raised $28.5 million in funding from investors including California’s BlueRun Ventures; Noam Bardin, the former chief executive of Waze, the navigation app that was bought by Google; and Richard Wooldridge, Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects chief operating officer.

By taking the drone pilot and operator out of the equation, Airobotics removes the most expensive and hard-to-find component of industrial drone operations, the company said in a statement.

The system is made up of three major parts: a drone, which can fly 30-minute missions at a time while carrying a one kilogram payload and using videos to provide customers with real time aerial insight; the airbase, a completely automated base station from which the drone launches and lands on its own, without needing human intervention, and software, which enables users “to control and manage missions with one click.”

Airobotics is also creating an open ecosystem to allow other developers to come up with additional tools. Because the new drone has a payload mechanism design that can be swapped, partners can create new payloads that integrate new sensors and other tools into the drone. The Airobotics’ software is also both a complete operating system and an open platform, something that will allow third parties to build and customize the payloads and also provide the software apps to support and manage the various new missions. This will open up different and novel ways the drone can be used, the company said.

Led by co-founders Ran Krauss, the chief executive officer, and Meir Kliner who is in charge of research and development, the entire Airobotics’ 70-person team is made up of people who have technological and practical drone knowledge. Airobotics is Krauss’s third drone startup, the statement said.

Noam Bardin (Photo credit: Courtesy Waze)
Noam Bardin (Courtesy Waze)

Noam Bardin, now an executive at Google, was “immediately hooked” by the potential for Airobotics as it has “disruptive vision” and is “uniquely positioned to own the industrial drone space,” he said in the statement.

Airobotics’ solution can be used by the mining, oil and gas industries, ports, and other industrial facilities which need areal views for surveys and mapping, inspection, security and emergency needs. Israel Chemicals Ltd., the fertilizer and potash manufacturer who was one of Airobotics’ first customers, ran beta trials to test, refine, and optimize the performance of the platform, the statement said.

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