Near Earth Autonomy, a startup that is into developing self-guided drones that use the autonomous technology to operate drones has received funding from Boeing. This is Boeing’s first investment out of Horizontal X, the venture fund it created six months ago.
Though there are no official figures, the estimates who can be relied upon, indicate that Near Earth Autonomy could be valued between $40 and $50 million and it has authorized the sale of $10million worth equity. The exact amount it received from Horizontal X is not known.
Boeing is the largest aerospace company in the world.
As much as the major automotive companies are showing interest in and taking over startups engaged in autonomous driving technology, the aerospace companies are also equally keen on adding muscle to this technology in their line of activity. Boeing Co, for instance has announced only last week, its acquisition of Aurora Flight Services, a drone pioneer. This company has been already working with Uber Technologies Inc in the realm of developing flying taxis. Zunum Aero is another company Boeing has invested in.
Boeing’s rival Airbus has also been taking similar interest and has formed a separate division called ‘Urban Air Mobility’.
Explaining the background to the significance of developing drones, Sanjiv Singh the CEO of Near Earth Autonomy told Bloomberg that even as the demand for air travel is increasing the number of pilots is decreasing. He gave the example of the recent natural disaster in Puerto Rico, where complete roads have been washed away and the use of autonomous deliver systems like drones would prove immensely useful.
Under this arrangement between the companies, Boeing is appointing its representative on the board of the startup Near Earth Autonomy and they will work on developing future products.