It’s a huge week for one American drone maker, which just raised an enormous $100 million for its follow-me drones. The Skydio Series C funding round was announced this week, bringing the California drone maker’s total funding to $170 million.
U.S. drone maker Skydio on Monday announced the $100 million Skydio Series C funding, led by Next47 with participation from Levitate Capital, NTT DOCOMO Ventures. The company’s existing investors include Andreessen Horowitz, IVP, and Playground.
“Skydio has what we firmly believe is the best autonomy stack in the world,” said T.J. Rylander, General Partner at Next47. “While their innovation is in the software, they also developed the hardware to create an integrated product that fully capitalizes on autonomous capabilities.”
The news is especially notable now, given increased calls for drones made in the USA., amid fears that American drone companies are struggling to compete with the competition — namely Chinese drone behemoth DJI, which has a reported 70+% market share.
The news comes on the heels of the relaunch of the Skydio 2 drone last month, a follow-me drone.
The drone is known for being “crash-proof” — or at least nearly so. The drone is Equipped with six, 200-degree color cameras powered by a computing device called the NVIDIA Tegra TX2, which can see everything in every direction so it theoretically never crashes. It costs $999.
But while the Skydio 2 primarily appeals to photographers — primarily action sports enthusiasts looking to get follow-me shots of them racing around a track or plowing through a field, Skydio is now turning greater attention to commercial markets. Skydio said it would use the $100 million Series C round “to leverage the new funding to accelerate product development and go-to-market expansion in enterprise and public sector markets.”
The Silicon Valley-based drone make said it plans to further grow its enterprise customer base through the launch of what it calls “a new autonomous drone platform for enterprise and public sector, the Skydio X2.”
Skydio X2 is actually a family of two (for now) types of drones equipped with thermal cameras, designed specifically for various types of enterprise use cases. Both drones will be available in Q4 2020.
- There’s the Skydio X2D, built to meet the Short-Range Reconnaissance (SRR) requirements for the U.S. Army. It’s built for military defense use cases such as performing. reconnaissance, search and rescue, and security patrol missions.
- Then there’s the Skydio X2E, optimized for enterprises, first responders, and civilian agencies.
Like Skydio’s consumer model, the Skydio 2, both X2 models are ready to fly out of the box and are capable of autonomous navigation with 360 real-time obstacle avoidance, object detection and motion prediction. And like the consumer version, there’s also an option to upgrade to a traditional controller, plus there’s a new wireless system to extend range up to 6.2 kilometers.
The company also announced three new commercial-focused products designed for inspections and situational awareness workflows including Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation, Skydio 3D Scan, and Skydio House Scan.
- Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation is a product that unlocks new modes like 360 Superzoom, which provides up to 100x digital zoom with high quality video resolution and electronic image stabilization; Precision Mode which allows drones to fly in close proximity (.5 meters) to obstacles in tight spaces; and Vertical View, where you can to capture images by looking straight up overhead instead of dedicating the inspection camera to avoiding obstacles.
- Skydio 3D Scan is a digital scan software for inspections of complex industrial structures and locations, such as bridges, building facades, energy infrastructure, accident and crime scenes. Unlike inspection conducted with manual drones, Skydio 3D Scan enables a fully automated, structure-agnostic process that does not require any prior knowledge of the inspected structure and can operate in GPS-denied environments or without internet connection.
- Skydio House Scan is a software that enables home insurance agents to automatically perform accurate inspection of residential homes with minimal knowledge of drone piloting. The platform was built in partnership with aerial imagery and data analytics firm Eagleview, which is based in Bellevue, Wash.
Also as part of the Skydio Series C, the company also announced it has added three new members to its executive team: Mark Cranney as Chief Operating Officer who was formerly COO at Signalfx; Brendan Groves as Head of Regulatory and Policy Affairs, who formerly served as Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department; and Alberto Farronato as Chief Marketing Officer, who previously served in leadership at VMware, Mulesoft, and SignalFx.