DroneBase, a drone services provider for businesses, has raised $12 million in a series B round of funding led by Union Square Ventures and Upfront Ventures, with participation from DJI, Hearst Ventures, and Pritzker Group.
Founded out of Santa Monica in 2014, DroneBase is one of a number of drone companies to raise venture capital cash in recent years, particularly since the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) passed new rules in 2016 allowing drones to be used commercially.
DroneBase works with businesses to provide them with drones that can capture aerial photos and videos for specific industrial work, be it analyzing construction sites or inspecting cell phone towers.
Up until now, DroneBase had raised around $7 million in funding, and with its latest cash influx it said that it plans to expand its AirCraft augmented reality (AR) offering to include a new Pro service later this year. AirCraft is a beta service within the DroneBase pilot’s app that allows you to overlay virtual objects onto the landscape to build an obstacle course or help visualize how a new structure, for example, may look. While the current incarnation of AirCraft is aimed at the recreational market, the new Pro service will allow companies to upload 3D computer design models, images, and data at scale to showcase anything they want.
DroneBase also suggested that the AirCraft AR toolset could be used to train pilots for particularly tricky missions, before they take to the skies for real.
“We want DroneBase to have the best customer experience for both our enterprise clients and pilots, and that means automating the operations layer so both parties can focus on what they do best,” noted DroneBase cofounder and CEO Dan Burton. “We’re advancing how drones can make enterprises more efficient, and this new funding will allow us to make AirCraft Pro a reality.”
The commercial drone market is estimated to become a $127 billion industry by 2020, and based on recent developments in the drone realm, it’s clear there is a huge push from startups across the land to get their piece of the pie. DroneBase’s latest investment comes hot on the heels of rival PrecisionHawk’s mammoth $75 million funding round just a few weeks ago, while Kespry secured $33 million in December. PrecisionHawk also last week acquired Droners and AirVid to create a massive network of licensed drone pilots.
DJI has now invested in DroneBase across multiple funding rounds, and having such a major drone manufacturer on board as a strategic investor can only be a good thing.
“DroneBase has addressed two key challenges in the industry by providing reliable, affordable and scalable drone services for enterprises across industries, while offering opportunities for pilots of all skill sets with purposeful reasons to fly their drones,” added DJI head of enterprise partnerships Jan Gasparic. “This round marks DJI’s third investment in DroneBase, which demonstrates our confidence in their continued success in an industry that, while growing at a rapid pace, is just at the beginning of realizing its full potential.”
This post by Paul Sawers originally appeared on VentureBeat.