The Federal Aviation Administration has taken a hard line so far against most commercial uses of unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e.,drones) for safety and privacy reasons. But one other good reason for taking things slow is that the software for managing such drones has trailed hardware development.
A new company called PixiePath seeks to address the software shortage by delivering SaaS-based tools for controlling fleets of commercial drones. Because of the FAA taking its time outlining rules, PixiePath could find its biggest early opportunities up North or overseas.
The self-funded Santa Barbara startup is the brainchild of Brian Field-Elliot, whose name might be familiar to enterprise IT pros who use products from security company Ping Identity. Field-Elliot co-founded Ping back in 2002.
His latest venture, which is seeking seed funding, makes clear that it is not focused on the software used to keep drones aloft or on route. Rather, PixiePath is all about getting drones to work smartly together, taking the least cost route or getting ready for their next task, whether it be grabbing data or delivering merchandise.
PixiePath plans to sell its tools and services to organizations with commercial drone fleets, enabling them to integrate the inputs, such as positioning, and outputs, such as camera or sensor data, with the Internet at large or their corporate networks. Systems integrators and application developers will be able to use the tools as well to build higher-order apps.
While we haven't found many classic enterprise IT companies willing to talk about their efforts on the commercial drone front, Field Elliot says PixiePath plans to build software that will build bridges to vendors' platforms. In particular, the company plans to have its hooks into Microsoft APIs in the next year.
PixiePath doesn't shy away from using the term drone, except in its name. Recognizing that drones have a mixed public perception because of the military variety, the company latched onto the term pixie for the mythical small-winged creature seen as mostly harmless. That's the image of drones that this company hopes to foster by helping organizations keep them under control.
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