Computer Vision Technology Company Iris Automation Raises $13 Million

By Annie Baker ● December 20, 2020
  • Iris Automation recently announced that it closed $13 million in Series B funding. These are the details.

Iris Automation recently announced that it closed $13 million in Series B funding. Launched in 2015, Iris Automation is a computer vision technology company pioneering the development of advanced detection systems used to help provide Detect-and-Avoid (DAA) capabilities that enable safe commercial drone operations including scalable Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) missions.

This funding round includes follow-on investment by Bessemer Venture Partners, Bee Partners, OCA Ventures, and new investors Sony Innovation Fund and Verizon Ventures. And the addition of this strategic investment acknowledges the criticality of collision avoidance and safety technology to the future aviation community.

With this investment, Iris Automation will expand machine learning and AI capabilities and testing to improve and extend the Casia system’s performance envelope; continue to participate in the Federal Aviation Administration’s BEYOND program, focused on enabling Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations with Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to advance airspace integration.

And BEYOND will demonstrate operations that are repeatable, scalable, and economically viable with specific emphasis on infrastructure inspection, public safety operations, and small package delivery. Plus the company will continue to improve the detection and classification capabilities of the Casia system to support expanded use cases, operational environments, and aircraft compatibility. And Iris is also going to build out fulfillment capabilities to produce, deliver and support the growing installed base of aircraft OEM partners and end-use customers, and enter new markets associated with aircraft safety.

Aviation industry veteran and entrepreneur Jon Damush recently joined Iris Automation as CEO and the company also recently conducted a live drone flight demonstration for the City of Reno Fire Department of its Casia onboard (DAA) collision avoidance system, under the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP). This milestone closely followed Transport Canada also having issued the second Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for BVLOS flights in uncontrolled airspace utilizing infrastructure masking and Iris Automation’s Casia system to MVT Geo-solutions.

KEY QUOTES:

“We are incredibly excited about this show of support from our current and new investors, particularly during this unprecedented global pandemic. We have always known that our approach to the problem solves a critical missing link for unpiloted systems, and plan to deploy this capital to further expand our capabilities and improve safety for unpiloted systems as global regulators work to integrate UAS into existing airspaces. The investment clearly illustrates investor confidence in growth of the sector and specifically Iris’ role in the ecosystem.”

— Jon Damush, CEO of Iris Automation

“We see explosive demand in energy, agriculture, construction, security and logistics for long-range and remotely operated drones. Iris’ collision avoidance product, the only on-board, visual aircraft recognition system to receive government approval, provides a critical piece of air safety needed to unlock this enormous market.”

— David Cowan, Bessemer Venture partner and Iris board member

“One day drones will ubiquitously operate in our airspace making our lives safer, easier, and better, and Iris Automation is the key to unlocking the full potential of commercial operations. Enabling drones to fly beyond visual line of sight helps expand a myriad of operations from inspecting oil pipelines and railroad tracks to agricultural farms to last mile delivery, and makes all of those operations much more efficient and less expensive.”

— Tess Hatch, Bessemer Venture vice president and Iris board member

“Iris Automation is pushing the innovation envelope by using machine vision and on-board AI to bring unparalleled safety to the unmanned aircraft industry, which will fully unlock the commercial drone market beyond visual line-of-sight. This further builds upon Sony Innovation Fund’s drone investment thesis, and we believe the company’s scalable technologies makes it uniquely positioned to usher a new era in autonomous aviation.”

— Gen Tsuchikawa, CEO and Chief Investment Officer at Innovation Growth entures and the Sony Innovation Fund (SIF), Corporate Vice President, Sony Corp.