Edgybees: How a drone games company started saving lives

Edgybees: How a drone games company started saving lives

Malek Murison explains how a drone-racing startup has been using its technology to help first responders in disaster zones.

Edgybees first arrived on the scene at the start of 2017, with an AR racing game designed for use with DJI drones. Back then, the ability to design an augmented track and compete in the sky against friends was an exciting, if niche, application.

But all that has changed. Edgybees has moved beyond drone racing and is now applying its AR technology to solving real-world problems, such as in search and rescue, and disaster/emergency response situations.

The Israeli startup today announced that it has raised $5.5 million from backers including Verizon and Motorola. The funding will enable the company to expand its augmented reality (AR) drone software into new verticals.

Read more: How drones are helping hurricane recovery efforts

Supporting first responders with drones and AR

Edgybees’ First Response application can give life-saving insights to emergency responders. The most obvious use is orientation: labelling areas on a map from above can give recovery teams on the ground key reference points.

The technology was put to the test in the Florida Keys in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Mapping overlays allowed officials to identify distress calls in flooded areas. The First Response app was also used by firefighters battling blazes in Northern California in October.

From drone racing to life saving

Using AR technology to save lives is a world away from saving gamers from boredom. Edgybees Co-founder and CEO Adam Kaplan said, “The overwhelming response by commercial and industrial drone users looking to leverage AR, and partner with us in the fields of fire, public safety, and search and rescue, has been amazing. We can’t wait to expand the next set of drone applications into new markets.”

Motorola Solutions chief technology officer, Paul Steinberg, represents one of several backers who see Edgybees’ technology as having use cases far beyond public safety.

“Motorola Solutions is committed to exploring technology-driven solutions to our customers’ challenges,” he said. “We see powerful potential for Edgybees’ AR software to help us deliver rich, real-time intelligence to public safety and commercial users during the moments that matter.”

edgybees uses augmented reality and drones to support public safety
The First Response App

Read more: Why manufacturers should welcome the age of augmented reality

Internet of Business says

The combination of augmented reality and drones is an exciting one for commercial service providers and first responders. The ability for pilots to draw and label areas while flying can provide vital orientation to teams on the ground, as well as reference points in emergency situations.

Edgybees has followed a similar path to DroneBase, a US pilot platform that has also secured venture funding to expand its augmented reality application, AirCraft, in commercial markets. Meanwhile DJI itself has expanded from making toys to owning 85 percent of the consumer drone market worldwide, of course.