At this year’s World ATM Congress in Madrid, Unifly presented its e-identification and tracking solution for drones.
The completely independent device comes ready to use once attached to a drone and has its own power source and sensors for position, altitude, temperature, pressure, speed and direction.
2019 has been a productive year for Unifly and one it will look back on as turning point as it positions itself as a pivotal and successful player in the market.
The company was also named as one of Europe’s top scale-ups, named as part of the ‘Tech5’ Awards at the TNW Conference, an annual competition organised by TNW and Adyen, showcasing the hottest young scale-ups in all European countries and Israel, based on their performance, growth, and potential.
To be recognised as one of Europe’s top scale-ups, criteria includes notable investment rounds, team growth, media coverage and social impact, a bunch of criteria Unifly was proud to be matched up with again.
Launched in Madrid, from the moment BLIP (Broadcast Location and Identity Platform) senses vertical movement, it automatically starts sending tracking data over the LTE wireless broadband network to the UTM backbone.
Additionally, BLIP broadcasts the drone’s e-identification, 3D location and take-off position over Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).
The information can be accessed in real-time by relevant authorities through secured applications and therefore allows, for example, a police patrol to read out all details of drones flying within a distance of up to 200 metres of the patrol’s position.
In combination with the Unifly UTM platform, the firm hopes BLIP can provide a complete solution for authorities and ANSPs to identify and track drone traffic in their area of responsibility, independent of the systems used by the drone operators.
Commenting on the release, Koen Meuleman, co-founder of Unifly, explains: “Drones are becoming more and more a part of our daily lives. When a drone is observed, it is important to understand the pilot’s intentions, where it took off and who is controlling it. Both E-Identification and tracking provide this information.”
Adding: “Airborne equipment needs to be lightweight, robust, and able to withstand widely varying climatological conditions ranging from cold and heavy rainfall to blistering sunshine. This is why Unifly has developed a drone tracking and e-Identification product: the Unifly BLIP (broadcast location & identity platform). BLIP is tailored to the specific needs of UTM service providers and local authorities.”
Not only has Unifly launched the BLIP this year, it has garnered investment to help it with its planned strategic growth. In July, the company completed a £15.1m Series B capital raise.
The UTM software provider managed to bring in investors including Deutsche Flugsicherung and FPIM as part of the raise with existing investors Terra Drone, QBIC and PMV also participating in the round while Bryan, Garnier & Co., Europe’s growth investment bank, advised Unifly on the transaction.
Marc Kegelaers, CEO of Unifly, insists the investment will allow Unifly to build on its work: “This funding round will enable Unifly to continue building its world-leading features as a company while expanding the product offering. This now includes the BLIP which acts as an electronic license plate for drones, combined with high-precision drone tracking.
“We will continue to grow our international presence and secure additional contracts in the global UTM ‘land grab’. Future markets could be even larger, with the rise of air taxis, with integration between autonomous cars and drones, and with drone UTM software predicted to take over traditional aircraft as they become increasingly automated.”
As part of the company’s continued expansion, Unifly entered into collaboration with Fortem Technolgies to develop a joint airspace safety and security solution. In a move to help push a drone-enabled society, the new end-to-end solution has been designed to allow UTM and U-space architectures to be used by public safety organisations to secure airspace.
Timothy Bean, CEO at Fortem Technologies, comments: “Recent security breaches have caused the demand for digitized airspace above a venue or across a city to skyrocket, particularly for solutions that can detect drones with no RF emissions.”
“Fortem SkyDome supports drone service providers like Unifly to pave the way for safe and secure drone operations in an urban environment.”
The news, in April, came shortly after Unifly announced the BLIP, and general manager, Laurent Huenaerts, thought the new found partnership came at the perfect time, he said: “Safety and situational awareness are the two key elements that come into play for organizations working to develop and deploy new drone technology. Combining Unifly’s solutions with Fortem’s is a milestone that will allow us to serve the needs of more stakeholders and accelerate towards the safe drone-enabled airspace we envision.”
As well as expanding externally with the Fortem team-up, Unifly also expanded internally with the establishment of a subsidiary, Unifly ApS.
Located in Copenhagen, Denmark, Unifly says it hopes the expansion can allow for more intense support of the Scandinavian and Baltics region and help the company take another important step towards Unifly’s goal and ambition to safely and securely integrate drones into the airspace, all over the world.
Managing director of Unifly ApS, Ronni Winkler Østergaard, commented: “I am proud of the setup of Unifly ApS as a subsidiary and the employment of new staff which highlights our progress as a company. With Peter and Tobias in the team, we are able to provide our partners with more intense support in the region.”
Unifly insists that after the year it has had, it is confident that it is consistently moving closer to getting drones integrated into airspace across the planet.