Skydio raises $230 million in funding for its AI-powered autonomous drones, valuation soars to $2.2 billion
It’s almost two years ago today when we wrote about Skydio after the San Francisco-based AI-powered autonomous drone startup raised $170 million in funding led by Silicon Valley heavyweight Andreessen Horowitz. With drones becoming increasingly popular and automated, Skydio has transformed drones into intelligent devices that can dynamically understand and adjust to the environment in which they are operated.
A lot has changed since our last story. Skydio has grown 30x growth over the last three years and is now the largest drone manufacturer in the United States. Its drones are now used by every branch of the U.S. Department of Defense, by over half of all U.S. State Departments of Transportation, by over 200 public safety agencies in 47 states, and across more than 60 energy utilities.
Today, Skydio announced today it has raised $230 million in Series E funding for the construction of a new manufacturing facility in America and to meet the rising demand for its autonomous drones across public safety, defense, and infrastructure inspection. The latest round brings Skydio’s total funding raised to $562 million with a current valuation of over $2.2 billion.
The round was led by Linse Capital, with participation from existing investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Next47, IVP, DoCoMo, NVIDIA, the Walton Family Foundation, and UP.Partners. Skydio also welcomed new investors Hercules Capital and Axon, a technology leader in global public safety and a key Skydio technology partner.
Founded in 2014 by Adam Bry, Abraham Bachrach, and Matt Donahoe, Skydio uses artificial intelligence to create flying drones that are used by consumers, enterprises, and government customers. Skydio is made up of leading experts in AI, robotics, cameras, and electric vehicles from top companies, research labs, and universities from around the world. Skydio designs, assembles, and supports its products in the U.S. Skydio is backed by top investors and strategic partners including Andreessen Horowitz, Linse Capital, Next47, IVP, Playground, and NVIDIA.
By transforming drones into intelligent devices that can dynamically understand and adjust to the environment in which they are operated, Skydio enables radically simpler flights and makes missions once considered impossible possible.
The introduction of the Skydio 2 in 2019 marked the beginning of an ambitious innovation agenda to take drones into the age of software and AI-based autonomy that will further accelerate in 2021 with the upcoming release of the new Skydio X2, recipient of CES’s 2021 Best of Innovation Award, and Skydio 3D Scan, the first-of-its-kind adaptive scanning software.
“Drones enable the core industries that our civilization 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.”
Today’s funding and expansion news comes on the heels of the announcement of Skydio Dock and Skydio Dock Lite, powered by Skydio’s new Remote Ops software, which enables drones to be flown without an operator on-site at all. Skydio also recently launched Regulatory Services which are beginning to break through the Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) barrier with approvals for customers to operate Skydio drones beyond line of sight, including fully remote operations. The combination of technology maturity and regulatory progress for fully autonomous operations marks an inflection point for the industry.
Skydio’s 30x growth comes against the backdrop of a market that has historically been dominated by manually flown drones made by companies based in China that are beholden to China’s governmental policy. Escalating geo-political tensions have sharpened the need for secure, trustworthy drones to serve critical infrastructure, public safety, and defense customers.
The company is able to tackle these challenges with its autonomous flight technology, paired with manufacturing scale in the United States – something many didn’t think was possible in the drone industry just a few years ago. Over the last year, Skydio increased its overall headcount by 40%.
Skydio also revealed its new U.S. manufacturing facilities in Hayward, CA, which total over 36,000 square feet, a 10x increase in capacity. To continue to meet demand and support its rapidly growing global customer base, Skydio expects to bring over 150 manufacturing jobs to its facility in Hayward, CA, and other U.S. locations.
“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.”