The Strategist

US manufacturer of $999-worth UAVs becomes a 'unicorn'

03/02/2021 - 04:34

California-based autonomous drone maker Skydio has become a "unicorn" after investors have valued it at $1bn. The company produces $999-worth aircraft, which are eagerly purchased by police and the US Army.

Developer and manufacturer of small autonomous drones Skydio has become a "unicorn", reported US Forbes. The startup raised $170m in a Series D funding round led by venture capital fund Andreessen Horowitz, bringing the total funding in Skydio to $340m and the company's valuation - to $1bn.

"Autonomy is key to scaling drones and Skydio has established itself as a leader in this category. We are delighted to continue investing in this amazing combination of breakthrough technology, rapid growth and an incredible team in a market that is at a tipping point," said Andreessen Horowitz general partner David Ulevitch.

Skydio is based in Redwood City, California. The startup was founded in 2014 by former drone specialists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Google. Today, Skydio is a leader in the production of autonomous drones, which are not only sold to individuals, Forbes USA notes. Among the buyers of Skydio's aircraft are the U.S. Army and Drug Enforcement Administration, police and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Skydio launched its first quadcopter in 2017, with a modification released in 2020. This year, the company plans to begin production of the more technologically advanced X2 drone, equipped with thermal imaging cameras for nighttime flights. It is intended for corporate and military use and has already been selected for use in the army's short-range reconnaissance programme.