Our Investment in 3D Robotics

by Ryan McIntyre

We’ve long felt that machines are taking over the world.  Given the rapid cost decreases in sensory components (brought upon, inpart, by the proliferation of smart phones and other mobile devices), it’s easier and cheaper than ever to construct hardware that can interact with the outside world in a fully or partially autonomous way.

Over the past few years, we’ve kept close attention to one particular market of interest: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  We believe that the applications are nearly endless, but many have been cautious due to market and regulatory concerns.  Early companies produced toys that had some basic ability to do minimal autonomous activities.  They were also expensive.  Even today, most of them do nothing more than fly around a camera and help a pilot not to crash.  Although even then the results aren’t always pretty as evidenced by this wedding photographer drone running into the head of the groom.

On the regulatory front, the FAA has been incredibly slow (even for the government) in adopting new rules to govern UAVs.  The FAA has been asked by Congress several times to open up the skies to these technologies, but has been dragging its feet. Despite this,we believe the timing is right for mass adoption of this technology and that the applications are valuable even before the FAA acts on this issue.

3D Robotics (3DR) is producing the hardware and software behind many of UAVs on the market today.  Whether they are hobbyists or commercial uses, 3DR is building the core technology behind these vehicles along with developing the largest open source community in the field.  The company is also creating its own line of vehicles as well.  3DR is targeting uses that don’t need FAA approval and where people are willing to pay substantial money for the data acquired by UAVs.

The company was founded by Chris Anderson and Jordi Munoz.   We are very excited to work with them.