BOULDER – An offshoot of a German drone manufacturer has set up shop in Boulder with the intent of distribution and, eventually, manufacturing.
Chief executive Bernd Lutz co-founded Multirotor service-drone.com USA LLC earlier this month along with the two founders of service-drone.de GmbH, Germany.
Service-drone.de GmbH manufactures and sells small multirotor drones, or unmanned aerial systems, for commercial purposes in Europe. As the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration works to set regulations for integrating commercial drones into national airspace, Lutz said now was a good time for Multirotor to establish a presence in the United States.
The new Boulder company has an office at 4845 Pearl East Circle, as well as a 1,000-square-foot warehouse at 1555 S. 76th St. in Superior. Multirotor will start out by importing the drones from Germany and distributing to the United States, Canada and Mexico. But Lutz said that as the company ramps up it could eventually start manufacturing some of the parts and doing assembly locally.
The founding of Multirotor comes in the wake of Iron Ridge UAS recently working out a deal with the city of Longmont to base its own manufacturing operations at Vance Brand Municipal Airport.
Lutz is the lone Multirotor employee so far, but said he's in the process of hiring a technician for service and repairs as well as an experienced pilot of radio-controlled helicopters.
“Boulder is a great location,” Lutz said. “There's talent. It's close to DIA. It's just an incredible business environment.
Lutz, a serial entrepreneur, is from Germany but has lived in the Boulder area for 25 years. He co-founded ProFlowers.com with Congressman Jared Polis.
Lutz said Multirotor will sell drones solely for civilian applications. The drones are already sold in Europe, where commercial applications are already allowed in many countries, for a variety of uses like agriculture, the film industry, industrial inspections and geographic surveys and mapping.
Since testing of the drones is done in Europe, the company won't have to attain a Certificate of Authorization to conduct experimental flying like many manufacturers in the United States must do.
Lutz said Multirotor will initially sell direct to consumers but eventually will be building up a network of distributors as well as developing partnerships with companies that use the drones for services like photography or mapping.
The primary customers for the drones, which cost between $10,000 and $50,000, will initially be universities and other government institutions that are allowed to acquire the COAs from the FAA. But multirotor will also begin selling immediately to businesses in Canada, where commercial use is also legal in some applications.
Lutz declined to disclose startup costs of Multirotor but said it was fully funded by the three founders, though they might seek equity partners down the road as the company grows. The parent company has revenue of about $4 million per year, Lutz said.
Lutz said he believes we're just beginning to learn what range of uses drones will serve in the United States.
“We can only imagine what will happen in a short amount of time,” Lutz said. “It's just a question of when. … That primarily is determined by the FAA.”