Future

As Chinese Drones Are Grounded On US Soil, Skydio USA Soars To $1 Billion Value Overnight

Skydio

Drone company Skydio has recently announced that it has raised $170 million in funding, which brings the total to over $340 million.

This makes the California-based firm the first US drone maker to be valued at more than $1billion in fundraising.

This can be seen as one of the most note-worthy fundraisings ever since the U.S. Government has started to systematically ban drone models that are “subject to or vulnerable to extrajudicial direction from a foreign government.”

For instance, in 2017, the U.S. Army banned Chinese drones because of security issues, with the Department of Defense doing the same in 2018.

A year after that, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security explicitly warned U.S. companies against the use of Chinese drones citing spying concerns, while in 2020 the Interior Department grounded its entire fleet of aerial drones over potential cybersecurity risks.

“This is an important milestone for us as a company, but also for the U.S. drone industry,” said Adam Bry, CEO, and Co-founder of Skydio. “Together with our customers, we’re proving that a U.S. company can lead the way in this industry through AI and autonomy. Things are already pretty exciting, but we are just scratching the surface of what autonomous drones can do.”

From a small startup founded in 2014 by three friends who met at MIT, it became an impressive robotics and artificial intelligence company that operates on the premise that autonomy is the answer to unlocking a drone’s full potential.

February 2018 brought the launch of its first product, Skydio R1, a drone that focuses on an autonomous flight while using no less than 13 onboard cameras to analyze and navigate its environment.

The then $1.999 device was powered by an Nvidia-made onboard computer that made it possible for it to map its surroundings so it could then plan and predict its flight path while avoiding obstacles as it tracked and filmed a subject.

Skydio’s latest drone model, the X2, was awarded a Best of Innovation Award at CES 2021 with the device scheduled to be available from Q4 this year at a price yet unannounced.

One of its configurations, the Skydio X2D, has been build specifically to meet U.S. Army requirements and has already been selected as a trusted drone platform for one of the Department of Defense and Federal’s projects. The Skydio X2E on the other hand has been designed for enterprises, first responders, and civilian agencies.

“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 Andressen Horowitz, a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley.

“Autonomy is the key for drones to reach scale, and Skydio has established themselves as the defining company in this category. We’re excited to continue to invest in this magical combination of breakthrough technology, rapid growth, and an incredible team in a market that’s going through an inflection point.”

An analysis from market researcher Valuates Reports predicts that the global market for commercial drones is projected to reach as much as $35billion by 2026, from the $6.5billion in 2020.

And as the report shows, it seems that one of the advantages of the Covid-19 pandemic is that it made the growing necessity of touch-less technology, as well as its safety, stand out in stark relief, something which in return gave a visible boost to the drone market.

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As Chinese Drones Are Grounded On US Soil, Skydio USA Soars To $1 Billion Value Overnight
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