The Drones Are Coming

How significant is the VC backing of 3DR in drone development?


In 2013, Rand Paul, Senator for Kentucky said, ‘When I have friends over for a barbecue, the government drone is not on the invitation list.’

In reference to the privacy concerns surrounding drones, the Senator expressed his worry at the the capacity they have to spy on people. Whilst this is a major fear, it’s nowhere near the worst case scenario - often deployed in military action, there’s always a risk (albeit small) that drones could be commandeered by enemy forces.

3DR, the Californian based startup, recently acquired $50 million in venture capital backed funding. Qualcomm Ventures were the main contributor, whilst the Foundry Group, OATV and Mayfield, amongst others, raised the remaining sum.

According to their website, 3DR is committed to ‘helping people see their world from above’. Used across multiple industries, 3DR’s drones are a tool designed for data analysis, mapping, surveying and modelling.

The funding 3DR have received will be used to expand 3DR’s product development in regard to both hardware and software.

In a statement made by Co-founder and former Editor in Chief at Wired magazine, Chris Anderson said, ‘The incredible pace of innovation in the smartphone industry is transforming many adjacent industries, including drones. By working with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., we can bring advanced computing to the skies at an increasing pace’’

Currently, 3D Robotics’ drones are primarily used for photography and mapping. As a company they also sell accessories and an open source autopilot mode which has picked up considerable steam with drone enthusiasts.

Although definitely a step forward for drone development, current laws prohibit the use of drones commercially, with only 50 grants being accepted so far. However, there’s been a new set of regulations put forward by the FAA recently which would widen the scope of use.

Whether everybody will be happy about the advancement of a drone manufacturer remains to be seen, but it’s certainly an interesting space and one which will undoubtedly affect a number of industries. The fact that a company like 3DR has been backed so heavily means that the market believes that drones will be a success, but only time will tell if consumers share the same optimism. 


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