Venture Capital: Drone Maker Skydio Raises $170M; Earns Its Horn

Skydio turned unicorn with this Series D round.

Drone maker Skydio announced Monday its raise of $170 million in Series D funding led by Andreessen Horowitz’s Growth Fund, valuing the company at over $1 billion. Existing investors Linse Capital, Next47, and IVP, along with new investor UP. Partners also participated. With this round, Skydio has so far raised over $340 million and is now the leading US drone manufacturer and the first to achieve unicorn status. It is also well-capitalized enough to take on Chinese competition. (GEOSPATIAL WORLD)

According to the FT, the fundraising is significantly timed given that Washington has barred US companies from supplying components to Chinese drone company DJI – the global leader in drone manufacture. US drone companies could therefore step into the market breach, however small.

Besides, drones have matured beyond their initial use by hobbyists to sophisticated applications designed for government and business enterprises. They are now used for inspection, mapping, monitoring, and for creating 3D models of targets such as bridges or buildings using sophisticated cameras and software.

They are also now used in defense applications such as aerial reconnaissance and for unmanned attacks on hostiles.

Construction companies, departments of transportation, energy utilities, and police department also increasingly deploy drones in their operations.

AI and autonomy is the key to scaling up drones

According to Adam Bry, Skydio’s chief executive officer, autonomy will help drones to come into their own.

“The real shift that’s happening in the market is this transition to fully autonomous operations, where the drone lives in a dock, it’s connected to the internet and it flies itself on demand wherever it’s needed,” Bry told FT.

“The initial wave of hype around enterprise drones passed many years ago, but we’re now seeing these markets really mature,” said David Ulevitch, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz. “Autonomy is the key for drones to reach scale, and Skydio has established themselves as the defining company in this category.”

However, according to Bry, “we’re just scratching the surface of what autonomous drones can do.”

Related Story:  How Israeli AI is Hunting Down Operators of Hostile Drones           

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