After a string of big developments including the spring 2022 launch of its Elios 3 drone, as well as a feature in a Vice News documentary on using drones to study melting glaciers, Swiss drone company Flyability just scored some fairly significant investor funding. The money marks a Flyability Series C funding round, and is significant in part because some of the investors are existing customers, signally confidence in a product from the exact people who use it.
The Lausanne, Switzerland-based indoor drone company raised more than $15 million (CHF 15 million, to be exact), which comes on top of the CHF 7 million that Flyability had already closed.
Among the standout investors include Cargill and Dow, both of which already use Flyability’s inspection technology. The companies have both said that using indoor drones for inspections rather than humans removes potentially-dangerous situations that the companies would otherwise have to put their employees in. But beyond safety, the companies have said that drones are helpful in digitizing their asset inspection processes.
Cargill and Dow are significant clients for Flyability, but the company says that it already has close to a thousand customers across about 60 countries.
Flyability has carved a niche in the drone industry through its indoor drones, which are primarily used for enterprise use cases such as inspections in the mining, power generation, energy, chemical, wastewater, and maritime industries. The company targets drone flights through confined spaces, to support worker safety as well as to reduce downtimes for confined space inspections (which ultimately results in large savings for end users).
The Flyability Series C funding round was led by Japan-based SBI Investment, and it also brought back a few other existing investors including ETF Partners, Swisscom, and Future Industry Ventures.
Flyability Series C funding set to continue building on Elios 3 drone
A huge chunk of Flyability’s customer based is fueled by its newest product, the Elios 3 drone. Elios 3 is a collision-tolerant drone equipped with a LiDAR sensor for indoor 3D mapping. Collision-tolerant means that the company won’t promise it to be crash-proof, but the company’s signature cage and unique reversing motors make it basically so.
The Elios is designed to allow inspectors to visualize their assets in 3D models created in real time as the drone flies, and from there create survey-grade 3D models using either Flyability-made or third-party software. Among the highlights of the Elios 3:
- An Ouster OSO-32 LiDAR sensor
- A modular payload (in addition to the LiDAR sensor payload)
- High-quality image stabilization
- Ability to create 3D models in real time while in flight
Flyability said it intends to use the money to help develop new sensing and autonomy capabilities for the Elios 3.
A history of Flyability
While the Flyability Series C hit in September 2022, the company is far from young. It launched back in 2014, which is pretty old by drone standards. That said, the first actual Flyability drone came out in 2016, also as an inspection drone designed to thrive in confined spaces.
Flyability drones have had some pretty unique use cases, including sewer inspections and visual inspections of a beer factory. And earlier this year VICE World News teamed up with drone pilots using the Elios drone to investigate if the country’s melting glaciers could lead to catastrophic volcanic eruptions that disrupt the entire planet. You can watch Vice’s reporting with the Flyability Elios drone here: