Boeing HorizonX, others invest in Fortem Technologies airspace-awareness, object-avoidance for unmanned, autonomous aircraft

Intelligent Aerospace by Courtney Howard

News Article | March 16, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY – Fortem Technologies Inc., an airspace awareness and intelligence technology company in Salt Lake City, Utah, has closed a $15 million Series A funding round to support the company’s ability to scale to meet growing global demand for its airspace awareness solutions using low size, weight, and power (SWaP) radar to detect and avoid other aircraft and airborne objects beyond visual line of sight to ensure safe operations of unmanned and autonomous aerial vehicles.

Fortem Technologies’ TrueView compact, scalable, adaptable, high-performance radar system for unmanned and manned aircraft to detect airborne objects for increased safety. The Fortem TrueView radar system is deployed on an aircraft to enable the production and use of intrinsically safe air taxis and helicopters, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can operate autonomously beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). Safe BVLOS operations are crucial for the future of autonomous air vehicles.

“By cracking the difficult BVLOS challenge, we unlock emerging forms of flight, including everything from autonomous air taxis to lifesaving deliveries,” says Timothy Bean, CEO of Fortem Technologies Inc. “With the wonderful support from all our investors and the addition of Boeing and Mubadala, Fortem can scale more quickly to simultaneously improve airspace safety and secure critical infrastructure.”

The Series A funding round is led by DCVC (Data Collective) with key participation from aerospace company Boeing (NYSE:BA), and Mubadala Investment Company, as well as Manifest Growth, New Ground Ventures, and founding investor Signia Venture Partners.

The Fortem TrueView radar system can simultaneously track thousands of objects-each smaller than a soda can, traveling at high velocity, across a 360-degree field of view. Lightweight and low power, TrueView R20 weighs only 1.5 pounds and consumes less power than an LED street light.

“By delivering proven, powerful, and compact radar systems for safe unmanned flight, Fortem Technologies supports Boeing’s commitment to the responsible introduction of future autonomous air vehicles,” says Boeing HorizonX VP Steve Nordlund. "Radar technology is a necessary and trusted element as we continue to strengthen autonomy capabilities for a variety of commercial and urban mobility applications. Safety is paramount in our approach to the responsible introduction of future air vehicles. Fortem's radar systems will help as we pave the path to emerging markets of autonomous flight."

"Mubadala is excited to work with Fortem and its outstanding leadership team to help grow its business to new markets,” adds Ibrahim Ajami, head of Mubadala Ventures. “We strongly believe the TrueView radar is essential to maintain a safe airspace for both the aircraft and the critical infrastructure on the ground.”

Fortem Technologies is building ground-based intelligent airspace monitoring systems for BVLOS drone corridors and active “Drone No Fly Zone” protection. These systems can scale from a single building to an entire metropolitan area. The system becomes an intelligent network of mobile and fixed locations creating a detection fabric that permeates an entire region, delivering a real-time data stream of the location and velocity of all airborne objects.

“Fortem keeps the airspace safe from building to metropolitan scale, while also delivering solutions to actively detect and safely remove drones that pose a threat to critical infrastructure,” says Matt Ocko, managing partner at DCVC. “This kind of breakthrough airspace safety requires distributed radar intelligence on the ground, and on drones, all fast, accurate, low-power and cost-effective at scale. We’ve seen everything in this arena, and we are doubling down on our investment in Fortem because literally, no one else can do this.”

When necessary, this intelligent airspace system can then dispatch security resources, including fleets of Fortem DroneHunters. The Fortem DroneHunt is autonomous BVLOS hunter drones, guided by the long range onboard Fortem TrueView radar system — fused with other sensors – to safely remove any drone from a no-fly zone without risk to civilians.

“Fortem’s disciplined approach to solving complex and pressing airspace safety challenges is impressive,” says Ed Cluss, managing director of Signia Venture Partners. “They continue to execute against their plans while innovating in areas that have proved challenging for the industry and we believe they can help fuel the promise of a drone economy.”

DCVC (Data Collective) is a venture capital fund that backs entrepreneurs applying Deep Tech to transform giant industries. DCVC and its principals have supported brilliant people changing global-scale businesses for over twenty years, helping create tens of billions of dollars of wealth while also making the world a markedly better place.

Mubadala is a pioneering global investor, deploying capital with integrity and ingenuity to accelerate economic growth for the long-term benefit of Abu Dhabi. As Abu Dhabi’s leading strategic investment company, Mubadala is active in 13 sectors and more than 30 countries around the world, creating lasting value for our shareholder, the Government of Abu Dhabi.

Signia Venture Partners is a unique early-stage venture fund dedicated to helping passionate entrepreneurs realize their vision and build impactful, high-growth ventures.

Fortem delivers military-tested, commercially available solutions that detect, identify, and classify drones in real time to maintain airspace safety, while also actively protecting No Fly Zones. Based in Salt Lake City, , the company is privately held and backed by DCVC, Mubadala Investment Company, Boeing, Signia Venture Partners, Manifest Growth, and New Ground Ventures.

Founded in May 2016, Fortem has developed a suite of radar systems and radar-enabled product solutions to help unmanned aircraft and pilots safely operate in an increasingly crowded airspace. Its TrueView radar systems enable autonomous aircraft to perform various logistics applications, including cargo transport, package delivery, and large infrastructure inspections.

"With support from Boeing and others, Fortem can scale more quickly to support continuous improvements in airspace safety," said Timothy Bean, CEO of Fortem Technologies. "We look forward to continue working with Boeing as they develop autonomous air vehicles."

Boeing HorizonX Ventures participated in this Series A funding round. This is Boeing HorizonX Ventures' second investment in autonomous systems technology since the fund was established in April 2017.

The Boeing HorizonX Ventures investment portfolio is made up of companies specializing in technologies for aerospace product and manufacturing innovations, including energy storage, advanced materials, augmented reality systems and software, machine learning and hybrid-electric propulsion. Boeing HorizonX also seeks unique business opportunities and non-traditional partnerships for the company's aerospace technology using disruptive innovations and business strategies.

Chicago-based Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top U.S. exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in 150 countries.

About Fortem Technologies

Fortem Technologies is the leader in airspace awareness, security, and defense for detecting and defeating dangerous drones. Through an advanced, end to end system of distributed radar, AI at the Edge, deep sensor integration, and autonomous drone capture, Fortem monitors and defends the world’s venues, infrastructures, cities, and regions. The same system is accelerating the safety of the world’s airspace for urban air mobility. Based in Pleasant Grove, Utah, the company is privately held and backed by Boeing, DCVC, Mubadala Investment Company, Signia Venture Partners and others.

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