Microsoft’s bet on drone mapping

BI Intelligence
Enterprise Drone Shipments
Enterprise Drone Shipments

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Microsoft is betting that as drones proliferate, demand for mapping services and platforms will grow; this was recently demonstrated by the tech giant’s investment in the real-time drone-mapping startup AirMap, according to The Verge.

The larger $26 million Series B funding round was completed earlier this month and included Qualcomm and Airbus.

AirMap provides software that offers drones information about other aircraft in their immediate airspace, as well as notify individual drones where other members of their fleet are in real time. Notably, AirMap also incorporates FAA No-Fly Zone updates — any company using its services can steer its drone fleets away from prohibited airspace.

Microsoft is likely assuming that its large enterprise clients will soon integrate drones into their operations and therefore need mapping services. Microsoft’s primary revenue stream comes from software contracts with large enterprises in sectors ranging from energy to healthcare and agriculture. If these clients soon integrate drones into their operations, demand for drone-mapping services for their drone fleets will likely grow. For example, if a manufacturing client of Microsoft’s Azure cloud services integrates drones into its operations for inspection purposes, it would also benefit from a solution like the one offered by AirMap.

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Morphing drone takes off like a helicopter, flies like a plane


Looking to ensure a good crop

Bobby Schulz/University of Minnesota

A shape-shifting drone takes off like a helicopter and transforms into a plane in mid-air to fly all day on solar power. The drone is designed to provide affordable aerial surveys for farmers, so they can see where to irrigate and use fertiliser and herbicide only where needed.

Most drones are not appropriate for this because they have short flight times. Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos and his team at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis have therefore taken a new approach.

The Solar Unmanned Air Vehicle: Quad (SUAV:Q) takes off vertically before unfolding with the help of lightweight powered hinges into a flat, winged aircraft. Its design makes it easier to launch than a fixed-wing drone, and means it can also hover during flight to get a stable view of the land below. It morphs back into the quadcopter formation to land vertically.

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ISIS builds quadcopter “bomber” with DJI drone and badminton supplies


On the morning of February 23, Iraqi forces moved through Al-Buseif, Iraq as they began their assault against the Islamic State (IS) held Mosul Airport. All the while, a quadcopter drone buzzed overhead. Sara Hussein, a reporter with Agence France-Presse covering the assault on Mosul, reported via Twitter that the Iraqi Army had brought down the weaponized drone, and her driver managed to take pictures of it after it was grounded.