AirSpace Link, a Detroit-based startup that automates flight path and FAA clearance for commercial drones, raised $4 million in seed funding in the second half of last year, TechCrunch uncovered yesterday.
According to Crunchbase, AirSpace Link raised a $1 million pre-seed round in September led by 2048 Ventures, and a $3 million seed in December led by Indicator Ventures.
The easiest way to think about AirSpace Link is as a set of turn-by-turn directions for commercial drones. As delivery of packages and hamburgers becomes more of a reality , the sky above us will get more crowded. With AirSpace Link’s cloud-based software, a drone operator inputs their starting and delivery points. AirSpace Link then charts an aerial course and gets Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval in seconds so the drone doesn’t interfere with air traffic.
In a phone interview last month, AirSpace Link President and CEO Michael Healander told me that his was one of just five companies in the world that can authorize commercial drone flights near airports.
In addition to air traffic and obstacles, AirSpace Link goes one step further by working with local governments to consider ground-based risks as it charts the skies for a clear path. Working with local governments, AirSpace Link also navigates drones around things like schools, prisons and emergency situations you wouldn’t want a drone flying over.
Google, Amazon and Uber all have drone delivery ambitions. Google started trialing package delivery in Virginia last year and Uber Eats says it will conduct drone deliveries in San Diego this summer. As these services come to market, new sets of issues (like flight path creation) will arise. There will be a halo effect that spur the launch of more supporting startups like AirSpace Link.