Boeing has signalled its support for the growth of the UAV sector by funnelling cash into an urban aerial delivery start-up.
The multinational corporation led the $16m (£12m), Series A investment in Matternet, a California-based start-up that specialises in on-demand unmanned aerial vehicle delivery operations in urban environments.
Matternet’s advanced logistics platform, combined with Boeing’s expertise in complex logistics, integration and manufacturing capabilities, is designed to further enable reliable, cargo air transportation.
“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.
“Our investment will allow Matternet to scale its operations while strengthening Boeing’s position as a leader in next-generation transportation solutions.”
In May 2018, Matternet was selected to participate in a joint US Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration program aimed at accelerating integration of unmanned aircraft into national airspace.
As part of the program, Matternet will work with hospitals, universities and transportation agencies in California and North Carolina to facilitate on-demand delivery of medical supplies and samples.
Last year, Matternet became the world’s first company to receive authorisation to launch UAV operations over densely populated areas in Switzerland. Leveraging its Matternet Station, M2 drone and Cloud platform, the company has achieved safe flights over densely populated areas and partnered with Swiss Post for on-demand deliveries of medical samples to hospitals in Switzerland.
Matternet founder and CEO, Andreas Raptopoulos, added: “We are excited to partner with Boeing, the pioneers of safe commercial aviation, to make this new mode of transport mainstream. As we expand Matternet’s US and global operations, we will work with Boeing to make next-generation aerial logistics networks a reality and transform our everyday lives.”
The Boeing HorizonX Ventures investment portfolio is made up of companies specialising in technologies for aerospace and manufacturing innovations, including autonomous systems, energy and data storage, advanced materials, augmented reality systems and software, machine learning, hybrid-electric and hypersonic propulsion.