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Public Safety Tech Firm Axon Buys Air Security Supplier

Dedrone, the company Axon acquired, makes software, sensors and AI that help Ukraine defend against enemy drones — and protect utilities, prisons and public spaces in the U.S. Dedrone had raised $127 million from Axon and other investors.

A drone is seen flying in a hazy blue sky with electrical towers out of focus in the background.
Axon, best known for its Tasers and body cameras, is buying an air security technology company that helps protect Ukraine from drones.

Axon has signed a “definitive agreement” to buy San Francisco-based Dedrone, which was founded in 2014 and had raised more than $127 million from Axon and other investors. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. In a news release Monday, Axon said it expects the deal to close in the second half of the year.

Besides the investment, the relationship between the two companies has also included collaborating on a project involving flying drones beyond the visual sight lines of their operators. Axon said the acquisition will give it a greater ability to offer critical response and community safety tools.

“Together, we will accelerate our efforts in creating a more advanced end-to-end drone solution that enables the good drones to fly and helps ensure the bad ones don’t,” Axon founder and CEO Rick Smith said in a statement.

Dedrone’s products include its DedroneTracker.AI, which the company calls its “core” product.

The software, along with radio, radar, video and acoustic sensors, can detect intrusions from various types of drones, with artificial intelligence helping users prioritize risk and potential targets. Dedrone says its customers use the company’s technology to protect more than 500 sites from unauthorized drones.

One of those customers is the government of Ukraine, according to Dedrone. Officials there use some 300 DedronePortable front-line sensors, “each capable of identifying and detecting the radio signatures of nearly 250 different models of drones.”

Back stateside, Axon, in a blog entry, details how law enforcement is using Dedrone technology to protect the Tulsa, Okla., state fair, where malicious activity by unauthorized drone operators could lead to damage or bloodshed. Other public-sector entities using its sensing tools include utilities and prisons, where drones are sometimes used to smuggle in contraband.

“Dedrone’s growing impact across industries such as federal governments, utilities and critical infrastructure, event venues, airports, correctional facilities and other enterprises, coupled with Axon’s powerful ecosystem of connected devices and software, will put us at the forefront of ensuring not only the safety of our communities but also the security of nations around the world,” Dedrone CEO Aaditya Devarakonda said in a statement.

This is just the latest acquisition for Axon, which said in February it would buy Fusus. Fusus developed real-time crime center technology that involves aggregating live video, data and sensor feeds. That purchase also followed a previous partnership with the acquired company.