US drone manufacturer Skydio has announced it has raised $170 million in investment, led by Andreessen Horowitz’s Growth Fund. That brings the total raised by the company to $340 million – and a valuation of a cool $1 billion.

With this latest news, Skydio is on a roll with significant momentum. It wasn’t that long ago, just last fall, that we were writing about the company’s $100 million Series C raise. Plans at the time were to use that capital for product development. Now, yet more venture capital will give Skydio plenty of room for further expansion.

Clearly, investors have faith in the company and its leadership.

The AI difference

Skydio has a few pretty significant things going for it. The company has an emphasis on AI and automation, building drones that are highly aware of their environments and capable of complex, automated tasks. Its Skydio 2 has received approvals for beyond visual line of sight flights for some applications, indicating the FAA has faith in the technology. And it has value-added software packages, which unlock significant capabilities of these drones and have the potential to become significant revenue streams in the future.

Skydio drones “see” where they’re going… and act on that information. Skydio GIF, used with permission.

It’s also a US-based company with a US-based supply chain – at a time when there appears to be a shift away from some non-US-based drone manufacturers.

The players

Some of those putting up funds have been at the table before. Andreessen Horowitz led the Series A, and existing investors Linse Capital, Next47, and IVP are all back again for more, along with new investor UP.Partners.

In a news release, the company said this capital injection will be used to “further accelerate product development and global sales expansion to support the rapidly growing demand for its autonomous drone solutions.”

The initial wave of hype around enterprise drones passed many years ago, but we’re now seeing these markets really mature. 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. 

David Ulevitch, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz

Based on the quotes in the supplied news release, it appears the investors were attracted by the company’s AI/automation value proposition. The company is laser-focused on creating hardware and software that can carry out complex tasks with minimal operator input. Quite simply, the company is building a different kind of drone than pretty much anyone else.

From the moment we met the Skydio team and saw the S2 in action, we knew this was going to be a world-changing company. Think of all the dangerous jobs requiring ladders, harnesses, or helicopters to do work that can now, with Skydio, be done much more safely and efficiently. Autonomous drones will enable our aging infrastructure to be monitored much more effectively and our first responders will have greater situational awareness than ever before.

Bastiaan Janmaat, partner at Linse Capital

The CEO

The company’s current position is largely due to the vision of CEO Adam Bry. A mechanical engineer, he also holds a master’s degree from MIT in computer science and artificial intelligence, aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering. He’s worked with Project Wing (Google[x]), and as an MIT grad student developed an autonomous fixed-wing UAV that could fly autonomously and avoid obstacles. When you look at all that, even on the surface, he kinda seems like the perfect person for the job.

Skydio CEO and cofounder Adam Bry

And, he says, Skydio is just getting started:

This is an important milestone for us as a company, but also for the U.S. drone industry. 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.

Adam Bry, CEO and cofounder of Skydio

Worth watching…

We’ve been keeping an eye on Skydio – and have covered some pretty impressive developments of late. Particularly worth noting was the company’s deal with EagleView for residential roof inspection, a massive deal that involves the sale of some 5,000 drones. We wrote about that here. The company’s drones are listed on the Blue sUAS site, which you might think of as a shortlist of US-manufactured drones “approved” for government agency use, though agencies are still free (in most cases) to choose drones made by other manufacturers.

Recently, Skydio had also achieved selection for final integration as part of the Army Short Range Reconnaissance Program.

A teaser video for the Skydio X2

Its Skydio 2 drone continues to be in high demand, and it will be shipping its Skydio X2, a more military/enterprise drone with some innovating features, later this year. The company’s Skydio 3D Scan software can dispatch Skydio products to carry out complex scanning tasks completely autonomously.

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