Drones are quickly becoming more than flying selfie cameras. Amid growing geopolitical tensions, drone makers are seeing increased demand and acceptance as drones move farther from consumers’ hands.
Skydio today announced a $230 million Series E fundraising round and the construction of a new manufacturing facility in America. The company says it’s seen a 30x growth over the last three years and is now the largest drone manufacturer in the United States. The Series E round was led by Linse Capital, with participation from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Next47, IVP, DoCoMo, Nvidia, the Walton Family Foundation and UP.Partners. Hercules Capital, and Axon, the company behind the Taser and police body cameras, also invested in Skydio.
Skydio says its drones are used in every branch of the U.S. Department of Defense, by over half of all U.S. State Departments of Transportation and by more than 200 public safety agencies in 47 states. But, of course, it helps that government agencies cannot purchase or use drones from the market leader DJI because of security concerns.
In a released statement, Skydio co-founder and CEO Adam Bry says the company sees “extraordinary demand globally from organizations addressing needs important to every citizen.” This includes, in his view, core industries such as transportation, public safety, energy, construction, communications, defense and more.
Skydio sets itself apart from the competition on its autonomous capabilities. The company had viral success with its original drone that featured a market-leading collision avoidance detection. The company still offers such capabilities but has pushed the industry forward with additional features and capabilities. Last December, Skydio announced a docking station and a new platform that allows drones to be flown without an on-site operator. Current regulations around visual piloting limit this product, but Skydio has a solution for that, too, and now works with companies to expand their drone programs.
The new Skydio manufacturing facility is based in Hayward, California. The facility is 36,000 square feet, a 10x increase in capacity over current levels. In addition, the company expects to hire 150 manufacturing employees to staff the new facility.