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Friday Focus: Boeing Invest $16 Million in Drone Start-Up

Boeing has announced that its venture arm has made a $16 million investment in Matternet — an American-based start-up focusing on on-demand unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) delivery operations.

Boeing hopes to combine their expertise in complex logistics and manufacturing with Matternet’s advanced logistics platform to enable reliable and efficient UAV delivery.

Boeing HorizonX Ventures, Boeing’s venture arm, led the $16 million investment with participation from the Swiss Post, the Sony Innovation Fund, and Levitate Capital.

Matternet became the world’s first company to become authorized to launch UAV operations over densely populated areas in Switzerland in 2017.

Matternet has also partnered with Swiss Post to provide on-demand deliveries of medical samples to hospitals in Switzerland.

Its specialized system, consisting of the Matternet docking station and M2 drone operating on a cloud-based software platform, has enabled the company to achieve safe flights over populated urban areas.

The M2 drone is capable of carrying payloads of up to 2kg, or 4 litres of liquid, over distances of up to 20km.

The Matternet station, which acts as a dock for the drone, automatically loads the drone for delivery and performs a battery charge and exchange.

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Managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures, Brian Schettler, commented: “Matternet's technology and proven track record make the development of a safe, global autonomous air mobility system a near-term reality.

“Our investment will allow Matternet to scale its operations while strengthening Boeing's position as a leader in next-generation transportation solutions.”

In May, 2018 Matternet was chosen to participate in a joint U.S Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration programme aimed at helping the integration of UAVs in the countries airspace.

As part of the programme, Matternet will work with hospitals, universities and transportation agencies in California to enable on-demand delivery of medical supplies and samples.

Matternet Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Andreas Raptopoulos, said: “We are excited to partner with Boeing, the pioneers of safe commercial aviation, to make this new mode of transport mainstream.

“As we expand Matternet's U.S. and global operations, we will work with Boeing to make next-generation aerial logistics networks a reality and transform our everyday lives.”

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