Kansas government is moving early to prepare for drones.
The state's Department of Transportation announced Aug. 8 that it will become the first statewide agency to deploy AirMap’s unmanned traffic management software. That will mean all airports in the state, as well as state-level agencies and higher education institutions, will all have the option to use the company’s software to work with drones.
More specifically, AirMap will offer them the ability to receive notices of flight paths from drone operators and communicate with those operators.
"Drones are already contributing to the Kansas economy as they start to be employed by farmers, ranchers, realtors, first responders and our public agencies," said Bob Brock, KDOT’s director of unmanned aerial systems, in a statement.
On top of giving government agencies the ability to receive flight notifications from operators — important for airports because of airspace restrictions — AirMap also offers drone operators software to help them plan flights. Therein lies an opportunity for the company to possibly serve government in another way: Public agencies, especially those geared toward law enforcement and public safety, are increasingly looking for ways to use drones in their operations.
That could mean sending out drones to assess the sites of emergency situations while first responders are on the way, for example, or it could mean quickly getting an aerial view of traffic conditions. For other agencies, it could mean surveying infrastructure more easily or simply gathering better photos for the city to put online.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation recently set out on a procurement effort for camera-equipped drones.
The Federal Aviation Administration lists more than 300 public and private airports in Kansas.
AirMap has raised more than $44 million in funding, including a $26 million Series B round closed in February.