Last Sunday, Amazon gave a glimpse of a future in which unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones) may be delivering your next set of birthday gifts. But Amazon isn’t the only one placing early bets on a future of commercial drones. To date, venture capital investments into drone-related startups has hit $79M across 15 deals.
With drone sales estimated in the billions of dollars over the next decade, there are already more venture capital investors who have done a deal in a drone-related startup than actual investor-backed drone startups (similar to a phenomena we have noted in bitcoin startups). Prominent VCs who have made drone investments in the past year include Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Felicis Ventures. The chart below highlights the financing growth trend over the past several years to the nascent drone market.
While the drone economy is just now beginning to attract the attention of VC investors, VCs have already made substantial bets into the broader emerging market of robotics. In fact, the $174M in venture capital financing to robotics companies over the past four quarters has more than doubled what has been seen into drones specifically. Among the robotics companies to receive significant backing in 2013 are consumer robotics and AI company Anki, which raised $50M from Index Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz in June, and vacuum robot cleaner Neato Robotics which raised $14M in August.
The chart below highlights year-over-year VC financing to robotics companies. Funding to robotics companies in the first three quarters of 2013 has already surpassed that in all of 2012.
Like the competitive home automation market, there is an increasing array of corporates that have either invested in or acquired companies in the robotics space. The majority of corporate investment and acquisitions thus far have been by tech companies including Google, which has acquired seven robotics companies in the last half year alone.
All of the drone and robotics financing data included in this research brief is available on the CB Insights Venture Capital Database. Sign up for free below.
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