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London Tech Week

UK’s self-driving startup Wayve backer now invests in $230M funding round of self-flying drone unicorn Skydio

Skydio
Photo Credit: Skydio

With the increasing demand for drones, US-based drone startup Skydio claims to have developed drones that can essentially fly, detect and avoid things on their own, without the intervention of humans. To make this happen, the company has developed Skydio Dock, which is a 72-pound motorized box that can allow these drones to operate completely autonomously.

The self-flying drone unicorn

Now, the drontech has raised $230M led by Linse Capital (the VC firm that has also backed UK’s self-driving startup Wayve). The funding round also saw participation from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Next47, IVP, DoCoMo, NVIDIA, the Walton Family Foundation and UP.Partners. 

Besides that, the self-flying drone unicorn has welcomed new investors Hercules Capital and Axon, a technology company in global public safety. The funding comes as there is a rise in demand for drones amid the growing geopolitical tensions in the world.

The $230M Series E round brings Skydio’s total funding raised to $562M with a current valuation of over $2.2B. According to the company, it has grown 30x in the previous three years and is currently the largest drone maker in the United States. Skydio claims that their drones are employed by every arm of the US Department of Defense, more than half of all US State Departments of Transportation, and more than 200 public safety departments in 47 states.

“Drones enable the core industries that our civilisation runs on—transportation, public safety, energy, construction, communications, defense, and more—to operate more safely and more efficiently, by putting sensors wherever they’re needed, whenever they’re needed, while keeping people safely on the ground. The transition to autonomy delivers a step change in the accessibility and utility of drones by removing the need for an expert pilot,” said Adam Bry, co-founder and CEO of Skydio. “We are still in the early innings of the industry, but we are seeing extraordinary demand globally from organizations addressing needs important to every citizen.”

A key differentiator for Skydio is its ability to operate autonomously. The company’s original drone, which had market-leading collision avoidance detection, went viral. The company still provides these services, but it has pushed the industry forward with new features and capabilities.

Cofounded by former MIT and Google unmanned aircraft scientists

Founded in 2014 by Abraham Bachrach, Adam Bry and Matt Donahoe (former MIT and Google unmanned aircraft scientists), Skydio has its headquarters in San Mateo, California, and manufacturing facilities in Hayward, California.

Skydio boosted its entire headcount by 40% in the last year. Further, it also unveiled new US production facilities in Hayward, CA, which total over 36,000 square feet and represent a tenfold increase in capacity. Skydio aims to add over 150 manufacturing jobs to its Hayward, CA factory and other US locations in order to satisfy demand and service its fast growing global customer base.

“Skydio drones are being used to save lives and aid in the maintenance of critical infrastructure in ways that sounded like science fiction just a few years ago,” offered Bastiaan Janmat, Managing Director, Linse Capital. “We couldn’t be more excited to continue our partnership with Skydio as they solidify their position as the world’s most innovative drone technology company.”

“Drones bring substantial value in maintaining public safety, in particular in terms of increasing visibility and providing a first line of communications for first responders. Skydio fills a critical need in making that value more readily accessible to key stakeholders such as law enforcement thanks to the power of autonomy,” said Henrik Kuhl, SVP, Strategy & Corporate Development at Axon. “We are excited to continue our go-to-market and technology partnership with Skydio as we work together to deepen adoption of this technology in public safety.”

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