Boeing [BA] on Wednesday said its HorizonX Ventures arm invested in a small company that develops and supplies software for use in helping manage traffic of commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

The $5 million seed funding round in California-based Kittyhawk was led by Bonfire Ventures and includes HorizonX, Freestyle Capital, and Kluz Ventures. HorizonX’s investments are typically in the low single millions of dollars to low double-digit millions of dollars.

Kittyhawk's software enables UAS traffic management capabilities. Photo: Kittyhawk
Kittyhawk’s software enables UAS traffic management capabilities. Photo: Kittyhawk

This is the third investment by HorizonX in UAS technology since the venture stood up just over a year ago. Previous investments were made in Near Earth Autonomy, which develops sensors for unmanned aircraft to map and survey terrain and infrastructure, and Fortem Technologies, which has developed technologies to allow drones to fly beyond visual limits, and to detect, identify and disrupt UAS systems.

“When paired with the broad portfolio of complementary data service offerings within Boeing, Kittyhawk is poised to help us shape the future of safe autonomous flight,” Brian Schettler, managing director of HorizonX, said in a statement.

Kittyhawk has customers for its technology, which helps manned and unmanned aircraft operate safely together in airspace. A spokesman for Kittyhawk told Defense Daily the company’s technology aids “hundreds of thousands of flights per year.

Kittyhawk has 12 employees and plans to expand to 30 by the end of 2018, the spokesman said. The company’s customers include media, insurance, energy, rail transportation, and emergency management agencies.