Drones may still be having a tough time dispelling the notion that they’re just expensive toys when it comes to the consumer space, but in the world of commercial applications, the autonomous aircraft are having a much easier time proving their worth.
PrecisionHawk , a Raleigh, North Carolina-based startup, has closed a Series D round, nabbing $75M in new capital that will help it seize on what it believes will be a forthcoming boom in commercial drone technologies brought about by an increasingly friendly regulatory environment.
The round was led by Third Point Ventures. In addition to a laundry list of previous investors, the round brought on investments from new partners like Comcast Ventures, Senator Investor Group, Constellation Technology Ventures and Syngenta Ventures. The drone company has raised $104 million to date according to CrunchBase.
PrecisionHawk’s technology enables customers to gather aerial data and analytics so they can understand the environment that they’re surveying. The startup sells drone hardware, sensors and analytics packages to customers. Its customers include Monsanto, Exxon Mobil, the USAA and many others.
“We’ve become an end-to-end solution provider for customers that are looking to implement drone technologies,” CEO Michael Chasen told TechCrunch in an interview.
A major focus for the company has been agriculture, but it’s seeing a lot of growth in areas like energy and insurance as well as non-military government uses. Focus has been strongly centered on domestic growth, but with the new funding the company is also looking toward international markets further. The company highlighted a recent bit from Goldman Sachs Research which highlighted that the drone space’s fastest growth is set to come from businesses and civil governments who are expected to spend $13 billion on drones through 2020.
Chasen sees the round itself as a bit of validation for how bright the outlook has become for commercial drone applications.
“The fact that we were able to raise so much capital from a great series of investors… I think that’s showing how much of a focus and belief there is that this technology is really going to be something that isn’t just revolutionizing the drone industry, but that drones themselves–as the touch-all for industries like agriculture, construction, energy, insurance and government–can fundamentally change and improve the way that these companies do business,” Chasen said.