IBM’s Weather Company to provide weather data to drone operators

A new partnership between IBM’s The Weather Company and drone navigation startup AirMap is aiming to deliver real-time, hyperlocal weather data directly to drone operators.


The partnership will utilize The Weather Company’s cloud-based forecasting platform, along with AirMap’s app for iOS and its APIs for developers, to provide drone pilots access to weather data such as temperature, precipitation, pressure, and cloud cover.

As owners of one the largest private weather enterprises in the world, IBM says the partnership comes at a critical time for the US drone industry.

Part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) rules for commercial drone operations in the US (dubbed Part 107) stipulates that pilots of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) must consult weather forecast data prior to taking flight.

“Part 107 is a major milestone in drone regulation for visual line-of-sight operations,” says Ben Marcus, CEO of AirMap. “The availability of real-time hyperlocal weather data from The Weather Company will help today’s drone pilots avoid hazardous and severe weather, and will be absolutely critical for safe, efficient flight planning and operations of more autonomous, beyond visual-line-of-sight drones.”

The FAA issued its first formal rules for commercial drone use in June. The regulations are part of a larger push to advance the US drone industry. However, they only cover drone deployments for certain use-cases. Drone delivery services, which are seen as the ultimate end game for companies such as Google and Amazon, still require further rule-making.