Boeing HorizonX gives a lift to drone radar venture

Fortem Technologies’ DroneHunter UAV is designed to detect intruder drones, using its onboard radar system, and snare them in a net if necessary. (Fortem Technologies Photo)

Boeing’s HorizonX venture capital arm signaled that it’s doubling down on autonomous flight technologies by participating in a $15 million funding round for Utah-based Fortem Technologies, which sells a miniaturized detect-and-avoid radar system for drones.

The investment was announced today, less than two weeks after Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said self-flying air taxis “will happen faster than any of us understand.”

Boeing has placed some big bets on the technology over the past year — including the acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences, which is working on an all-electric, autonomous air taxi, and an earlier HorizonX investment in Near Earth Autonomy.

Fortem Technologies’ TrueView radar system is designed to help unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAVs, detect and avoid other airborne objects beyond visual line of sight. It’s a key capability that’ll be required for future applications such as Amazon’s drone delivery system.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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