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Dedrone raises $10 million to detect aerial intruders

TechCrunch TechCrunch 17/05/2016 Lora Kolodny

As civilian drones become more affordable, sophisticated and common around the world, a company called Dedrone Inc. has raised $10 million in venture funding for systems that monitor the skies and tell people when drones have entered their airspace.

Menlo Ventures led the Series A investment in Dedrone bringing the company’s total capital raised to date to $12.9 million.

According to Dedrone co-founder and CEO Joerg Lamprecht, the company’s flagship DroneTracker system, is installed on the ground around a venue and employs a wide array of sensors to detect drones that are either unwanted intruders or welcome to operate overhead.

Manufactured in Germany today, each DroneTracker includes cameras, acoustic and radio frequency sensors that can detect the presence of a drone and ascertain what type of drone it is. Smaller venues require just one or two DroneTrackers, while stadiums and other large venues could require upwards of ten.

Dedrone does not sell data it gathers to any third party, but sends early warnings and daily reports of drone activity to customers. Dedrone sells its systems through partnerships with physical security providers such as Booz Allen Hamilton or Bosch Security Systems.

Lamprecht noted that unmanned aerial vehicles have been used in the private sector for noble purposes, like protecting endangered species, delivering medicine to clinics in remote locations, or helping farmers grow more food with less water.

Yet, civilian drones are also increasingly used in nefarious ways, like dropping drugs into prisons, hacking corporate systems or spying on private citizens. And as drone sales spike, civilian drone accidents could too. We’ve already seen drones accidentally crash into the White House lawn, and power lines in California.

Lamprecht said, “Drones have the potential to be used for the greater good, but only if we move past this anarchy we have today in the sky.”

The company will eventually add features to its DroneTracker system that can allow users to monitor drones’ uptime for the aerial robotics they actually want to put to work above their properties.

Menlo Ventures’ Managing Director Venky Ganesan said his firm backed Dedrone because it’s abundantly clear that drone-related problems will increase given the worldwide pace of drone sales.

“Drones make physical fences meaningless, in terms of security. You cannot build a fence high enough to keep drones out. So Dedrone brings cybersecurity together with physical security,” Ganesan said.

With about 40 full-time employees today, Dedrone recently moved its headquarters from Kassel, Germany to San Francisco.

Lambrecth said that the company would use its new funding for ongoing research and development, hiring and to ramp up sales and manufacturing of its flagship, DroneTracker systems.

The DroneTracker is already being used at stadiums, airports, data centers, high-end hotels and private homes, Lambrecth said, but citing security concerns, he did not disclose the names of those specific venues. Although, the company has announced its systems are being used at the New York Mets’ Citifield stadium.

Dedrone is one of the latest startups to draw VC funding to make civilian drone use safer. Others that raised venture funding include: PrecisionHawk, AirMap and DroneDeploy to name a few.

Earlier seed investors in Dedrone included former Internet Security Systems’ CEO Tom Noonan, and Target Partners.

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