FLIR Systems, the commercial company specializing in the design and production of thermal imaging cameras, components and imaging sensors has made a successful investment in Texas-based DroneSense, a provider of software platform that serves the safety needs in using unmanned aircraft systems. This minority investment will create opportunities and bring to market advanced drone operating, management and reporting systems. "This alliance with DroneSense will help bring to market a truly mission-critical solution needed by first responders to effectively deploy a complete UAS program across their organizations," says James Cannon, President and CEO of FLIR. About DEEPAERO DEEP AERO is a global leader in drone technology innovation. At DEEP AERO, we are building an autonomous drone economy powered by AI & Blockchain.
Twenty startups were funded in April 2018. Fifteen disclosed transaction amounts totaling $808 million of which the $600 million to SenseTime, the Alibaba-funded Chinese deep learning and facial recognition software provider focused on smart self-driving vehicle systems, was by far the largest. Seven acquisitions also occurred in April. The most notable was the acquisition by Teradyne (which previously acquired Universal Robots and Energid) of MiR (Mobile Industrial Robots) for $148 million with an additional $124 million predicated on very achievable milestones between now and 2020. SenseTime, a Chinese deep learning and facial recognition software provider focused on smart self-driving vehicle systems, raised $600 million in a Series C funding round led by Alibaba Group with participation by Temasek Holdings and Suning Commerce Group.
Privacy advocates are rightly concerned with the proliferation of drones in the hands of law enforcement. Can transparency help mollify concerns? That question is being put to the test in Southern California. The Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD), which has an active drone program, is teaming up with AirData UAV to transparency public drone flights. Mirroring the increased focus by police departments nationwide on effective public information campaigns, the hope for law enforcement officials is that easily accessible data, including flight and mission details, will help mollify a distrustful public.
In April, as COVID-19 cases exploded across the U.S. and local officials scrambled for solutions, a police department in Connecticut tried a new way to monitor the spread of the virus. One morning, as masked shoppers lined up 6 feet apart outside Trader Joe's in Westport, the police department flew a drone overhead to observe their social distancing and detect potential coronavirus symptoms, such as high temperature and increased heart rate. According to internal emails, the captain flying the mission wanted to "take advantage" of the store's line. But the store had no heads-up about the flight, and neither did the customers on their grocery runs, even though the drone technology managed to track figures both inside and outside. The drone program was unveiled a week later when the department announced its "Flatten the Curve Pilot Program" in collaboration with the Canadian drone company Draganfly, which was due to last through the summer. But less than 48 hours later after the program's public unveiling, the police department was forced to dump it amid intense backlash from Westport residents.
Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. On May 9, the Department of Transportation announced the first 10 project sites it chose to participate in its new three-year Drone Integration Pilot Program aimed at expanding the testing of new drone technology in a select number of local, state, and tribal jurisdictions. Selected from 149 lead applicants and over 2,800 private sector "interested parties," they're an eclectic bunch: the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; projects in the city of San Diego; the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority in Herndon, Virginia; the Lee County Mosquito Control District in Florida; the Memphis–Shelby County Airport Authority in Tennessee; the North Carolina, Kansas, and North Dakota departments of transportation; the city of Reno, Nevada; and the University of Alaska–Fairbanks all saw their specific public-private partnership proposals get the greenlight. The projects include plans to test various kinds of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS for short, as they are formally known), including drone-based mapping, inspections, traffic and weather monitoring, commercial and medical delivery, and law enforcement surveillance systems. Selected applicants will be given special attention from the Federal Aviation Administration.