Matternet raises $16 million for autonomous urban drones | Tech News

Matternet has raised $16 million in a new round of funding for its autonomous drone delivery platform. Boeing HorizonX Ventures led the round, with participation from Swiss Post and Sony Innovation Fund.

Matternet will utilize the funds to expand U.S. and global urban operations to further its mission of creating an on-demand urban transportation system. The Menlo Park, California-based startup has a strategic partnership with Boeing.

It also has launched permanent healthcare operations in Switzerland, created a partnership with Mercedes-Benz Vans, and was chosen to participate in the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP).

“Matternet’s technology and proven track record make the development of a safe, global autonomous air mobility system a near-term reality,” said Brian Schettler, managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures, in a statement. “Between the company’s success in Switzerland and being selected by the FAA to test unmanned aerial networks in the U.S., we are excited to work together to reimagine how the world connects and shape the next generation of transportation solutions.”

In May 2018, Matternet was selected by the FAA to carry out drone logistics operations for U.S. hospitals. The company is currently working with UC San Diego Health and the City of San Diego, WakeMed Health and Hospitals, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation, to establish Matternet networks for on-demand transportation of lab samples and medical items between hospital facilities.

“We are excited to partner with Boeing, the pioneers of safe commercial aviation, to make this new mode of transport mainstream,” said Matternet founder and CEO Andreas Raptopoulos, in a statement. “As we expand Matternet’s U.S. and global operations, we will work with Boeing to make next-generation aerial logistics networks a reality and transform our everyday lives.”

The operations will involve Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights over densely populated areas, similar to those carried out in Switzerland.

Over the past year, Matternet has expanded its operations in Switzerland with both of its exclusive partners, Swiss Post and Mercedes-Benz Vans. In October 2017, Matternet announced permanent operations in Lugano with the Ticino EOC Hospital Group, and so far has conducted more than 1,700 flights over densely populated areas, and more than 850 deliveries of patient samples. In June 2018, Matternet and Swiss Post expanded operations to Berne and Zurich and soon to additional cities, to test new hospital-to-hospital networks.

The company has raised $25 million to date, and it has 35 employees. It was founded in 2014.

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