Berkley, Calif.-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) company 3D Robotics says it has raised $50 million in Series C financing from Qualcomm Inc., a 3G, 4G and next-generation wireless technology company.
Qualcomm’s subsidiary recently introduced four new Qualcomm Snapdragon processors for high-performance and high-volume mobile devices. These processors are “ideal for developing advanced applications and driving increased performance for 3DR drones,” 3D Robotics says in a company blog.
Chris Anderson, 3DR CEO, says in the post that the collaboration with Qualcomm will “bring advanced computing to the skies at an increasing pace.”
According to 3D Robotics, “the drone future is going to look more like the consumer electronics industry than the aerospace industry” – as evidenced by the Federal Aviation Administration’s recently proposed commercial UAV rules, which state that UAV operators would not need to have a manned aircraft license to fly, the company explains.
This “minimally regulated domain of the airspace” that the agency has created, 3DR says, “will also stimulate a huge amount of drone innovation by allowing the industry to advance at the pace of smartphones, not airplanes.” Therefore, UAVs will be “smaller, cheaper, lighter, safer and in the hands of more users.”
In 2013, venture capital firm Mayfield called 3D Robotics “the poster child for how the ‘maker movement’ is spawning massive new industries.” Mayfield was an investor as part of 3DR’s $30 million Series B funding round that year.
According to Forbes, 3D Robotics has raised over $85 million in funding, and its investment from Qualcomm is the largest ever for any consumer UAV company in the U.S.