A quadricopter drone is seen in flight on the last day of the first Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Asia in Shanghai on May 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO
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Startup drone makers are finding record amounts of funding as venture capitalists prowl for early winners in what may become an $82 billion industry.Investors have pumped $210 million into businesses like SZ DJI Technology Co. and DroneDeploy so far in 2015, almost double the total for all of last year, according to data compiler CrunchBase.Within three years after the rules are set, the industry will create more than 70,000 U.S. jobs and have an economic impact of $13.6 billion, according to a 2013 report from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International trade group.Venture investors are willing to look past the challenges, because it's important to get in now.Airware, whose products include drone software, collected $40 million from investors that include GE Ventures, Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins.Some investors are even trying to profit from the need to build the systems to manage free-flying drones, not just the UAVs themselves.It's also building a larger drone for a foreign film production, said Ollwerther, the marketing chief.Money has already been raised for the drone industry, however, and those funds will be dispersed over the next five years, said ff Venture Capital's Frankel.
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