Airware acquires Caterpillar partner Redbird to boost drone solution

Caterpillar is seeking to capitalize on UAV’s capabilities. Photo: CaterpillarCaterpillar is seeking to capitalize on UAV’s capabilities.
Photo: Caterpillar

In order to better integrate planning for and analysis of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flights on jobsites, Airware, a San Francisco-based company that develops what it calls a “comprehensive operating system for commercial drones,” has acquired French drone data startup Redbird.

Airware’s software launching a drone from a tablet on the jobsite.Airware’s software launching a drone from a tablet on the jobsite.

If that second name sounds a bit familiar, that’s because Redbird has been working with Caterpillar since January on enhancing the heavy equipment maker’s VisionLink telematics data with drone-captured maps. Like Airware, Cat was impressed by Redbird’s cloud-based software, which specializes in allowing construction and mining outfits to view 2D and 3D maps while also analyzing those maps and providing a wealth of data.

While Redbird’s software focuses on providing data visualization on the jobsite level, Airware’s platform is more focused on the management, planning and operation of drones. Airware says the Redbird office in Paris will become the Airware European headquarters while the team based there will continue building drone analytics applications.

For its part, Caterpillar says its partnership with Redbird will not only continue after the Airware acquisition but that it expects it will improve moving forward because of Airware’s involvement.

“Airware’s acquisition of Redbird increases Caterpillar dealers’ solutions offerings by enhancing their ability to provide an end-to-end enterprise drone solution globally, helping our customers maximize productivity, work smarter, and optimize operations,” says George Taylor, vice president of Marketing and Digital at Caterpillar.

Financial details of Airware’s acquisition of Redbird were not disclosed, but Jonathan Downey, founder and CEO of Airware, did share his thoughts on the deal through a Medium post. Downey rightly calls the status of commercial drone offerings “fragmented,” and notes that many operations have had to cobble together several different products in order to plan their drone flights, construct maps out of the images the aircraft capture and then mine data from those maps.

Downey says his company has frequently been asked to provide an all-in-one solution. It was that demand that fueled the acquisition of Redbird.

“While there are many drone products that offer mapping capabilities, and some that even measure production, Redbird customers get unmatched analytics that can automate production measurement, optimize productivity with real-time efficiency calculations, and provide specific safety and compliance measurements,” Downey writes in the post. “Workers can annotate, comment and share that information with their colleagues in an incredibly easy-to-use cloud app on any connected device, collaborating at a level never before seen in this industry.”

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