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Fortem raises $5.5 million to hunt and take down unwanted drones

After drones became available to private citizens around the world, bad actors found ways to use them for nefarious purposes like spying on corporations, carrying contraband across borders and into prison yards, and sadly, turning the aerial robots into weapons. Drone crashes also put people and property in harm’s way.

Provo, Utah-based Fortem Technologies Inc. has raised $5.5 million in a new round of seed funding to keep the skies, and people below, safe as we enter the drone era. Signia Venture Partners and Data Collective (DCVC) led the deal.

The so-called counter drone market is bustling with activity. Other startups in this category include: Airspace, Guard From Above, and threat detection firms like Department 13 or Dedrone to name just a few.

Signia Partner Ed Cluss and DCVC Managing Partner Matt Ocko said Fortem’s approach is differentiated from others thanks to its proprietary radar technology.

According to Fortem CEO Timothy Bean, the company has developed a compact radar which enables drones to detect fast-moving aircraft up to 3,000 meters away. The idea is to ensure that as drones enter our airspace, they stay well-clear from one another and manned aircraft, even traveling at 100 miles per hour.

Fortem acquired its core radar technology in 2016 from IMSAR, and over the last year has adapted it so that the system can be exported around the world, leased or purchased outright within the typical security budget for a variety of venues, and can work with any security-grade drones.

DCVC’s Matt Ocko said, “Fortem’s radar uses less power than a light bulb, and has similar capabilities to one of those building-sized radars that you saw crouching ominously in the Arctic in the late 90s.” He views Fortem as a startup that will make “BLOS,” safe and acceptable to regulators. In the trade, BLOS means drones flying autonomously beyond a human operator’s line of sight.