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March 6, 2015
3DR Raises $50M in Series C Funding, Extending Smartphone Revolution to Drones

The following is a post that appeared on the 3DR Blog on March 6, 2015—We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve secured a third round of venture financing, a $50 million dollar Series C injection spearheaded by Qualcomm, global leader in 3G and next-generation mobile technologies.

We raised such a big round for two reasons. First, to leverage the extraordinary pace of innovation in the smartphone industry by partnering with the leader there, Qualcomm, with the goal of extending the mobile revolution to the skies. We also want to build on our great platform adoption and enable an entire global ecosystem of commercial drone specialists and operators, all creating products and services based on 3DR’s technology.

Qualcomm’s next-generation Snapdragon processors, including sensors, wireless and computer vision, are ideal for developing advanced applications and driving increased performance for 3DR drones.

“By working with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., we can bring advanced computing to the skies at an increasing pace,” said Chris Anderson, CEO of 3DR. “Such multi-gigahertz Linux-based onboard computing platforms, combined with state-of-the-art cameras and other sensors and wireless technologies, will allow us to create next-gen drones that are smarter, easier and safer than ever before.”

Obviously interest in drones is high, especially for mobile, and with good reason.

First, the recent FAA announcement is huge step forward in the acceleration of the commercial drone industry. Not only has it laid out clear rules of the road (clarity is always liberating), but by eliminating the requirement for manned pilot licences and aircraft certification it has dramatically lowered the barrier of entry for new operators.

This means the drone future is going to look more like the consumer electronics industry than the aerospace industry. To use an analogy, two decades ago the FCC liberated the airwaves by allowing free access to the “open spectrum” that created the WiFi and Bluetooth industries. That allowed the wireless industry to look and behave more like the lightly-regulated internet and less like the heavily-regulated phone companies. We’re all beneficiaries of the huge amount of innovation and economic value that that ruling created.

Now the FAA has similarly created a minimally-regulated domain of the airspace that will also stimulate a huge amount of drone innovation by allowing the industry to advance at the pace of smartphones, not airplanes. This means drones that are smaller, cheaper, lighter, safer and in the hands of more users, finding more uses than ever before.

And that’s what 3DR intends to lead, powered by Qualcomm, encouraged by the FAA and driven by a generation of consumer and commercial users who are using these powerful new tools to discover positive and productive applications that we can only dream of today.

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