One of the founders of the runaway taxi app Hailo has raised just under €2m for a drone aviation startup based partly in Dublin.
Jay Bregman is to begin hiring engineers in Ireland for the global startup, called Verifly, which aims to make it safe for drones to be flown without fear of colliding or crashing into urban infrastructure.
Investors in the new venture include Irelandia Aviation, managed by the late Tony Ryan’s son, Declan Ryan.
Private investors include Robin Klein, who is also a partner in the venture capital firm Index Ventures. The founder of Virgin Mobile USA, Amol Sarva, has also invested in the startup as has Serkan Piantino, Facebook’s site director in New York.
Mr Bregman, whose former company Hailo raised over €100m, aims to run the startup from Dublin and New York.
The startup aims to set a new safety framework for aerial drones that would plug in drone manufacturers, aviation authorities, drone pilots and others interested in the operation of drones. At present, there is little specific regulation for drones beyond blanket bans in urban areas or limited licences in restricted circumstances.
“This is unlike Hailo and is more of a global play from the outset,” Mr Bregman told Independent.ie.
“We foresee developing technology here that works with major manufacturers and that they sell globally. We have plans to put in lots of infrastructure here to support that including all of the back end systems and support. Ireland is easily the best place for us to do this because of the ecosystem already here, including people who speak every language.”
Many big firms are seeking to use drones to help their businesses. Last week, the US Federal Aviation Authority granted Amazon permission to begin testing drone deliveries of parcels and goods. The online retail giant wants to create a new service called ‘Amazon Prime’ that would see small packages delivered to householders via unmanned drone delivery. In Asia, online retail giant Alibaba wants to use drones for the same purpose.
The US aviation authority has also given the green light for insurance giant AIG to test drones for photographing and documenting damaged property.
Mr Bregman has hired Hailo’s general manager for Europe, Colm O’Cuilleanain, as the venture’s lead presence in Ireland. Mr O’Cuilleanain’s role includes developing commercial models for the new startup as well as engaging with regulatory bodies here and abroad.
Eugene Hertz, who sold diapers.com to Amazon for $540m, has also joined the venture as co-founder.