Drone startups are transforming the way data is collected, property is inspected, and goods are delivered.
Drone companies saw a record number of deals last year. On a quarterly basis, Q1’17 was the most active quarter historically for deals, reaching 32 investments worth $113M. Within the space, terrestrial imagery, infrastructure inspection, and delivery have emerged as some of the primary use cases for drone technology.
Using CB Insights data, we identified over 70 leading private companies in the drones space and categorized them into the twelve main categories in which they operate.
We define drones broadly to include software and hardware companies developing technologies related to unmanned aerial, marine, and/or land vehicles designed for unstructured environments. These technologies range from the manufacturing of drones to the analysis of data collected by drones, among other applications.
Click on the image below to enlarge. Not all of the categories in our map are mutually exclusive. This market map is not meant to be exhaustive of companies in the space.
Manufacturers: Startups in this category develop and manufacture drones or drone-related hardware. Companies such as DJI Innovations develop and manufacture aerial robotics technology for both commercial and recreational use. Others, like Zero Zero Robotics, manufacture exclusively consumer drones that act as portable autonomous flying cameras. Companies like Global Energy Transmission Corporation, on the other hand, are focused on manufacturing long distance, high power wireless power solutions for industrial applications.
Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping: Companies in this category focus on imagery and mapping of land. Airware is an example of a terrestrial imagery & mapping company that allows enterprises to plan, fly, and analyze aerial data. Similar companies, such as Propeller, offer a platform that automatically processes photos from drones into maps, models, and inspection data. These companies typically focus on mapping for the construction, mining, telecommunications, waste management, and energy & utilities industries, among others.
Precision Agriculture: These startups have a number of similarities to terrestrial imagery & mapping companies; however, they focus strictly on the agricultural applications. Companies like FarmShots offer an online satellite and drone imagery suite that allows users to analyze farms in real time. Raptor Maps uses remote sensing and data analytics to monitor crop health, which helps to reduce environmental impact while increasing crop yields.
Inspection & Monitoring: Companies in this category focus on infrastructure inspection or infrastructure health monitoring. Though these companies operate in many of the same industries as the terrestrial imagery & mapping companies, these startups offer services at closer proximity. For example, CyPhy Works is focused on research and development of small unmanned flying robots to be used for infrastructure inspections. Flyability, similarly, is a collision-tolerant drone used mainly for industrial inspection. SkyX Systems and Sky-Futures, on the other hand, monitor structures in the oil & gas industries exclusively.
Delivery & Transport: Startups including Starship Technologies are building fleets of self-driving delivery robots designed to deliver goods locally within 30 minutes. Others, such as Matternet, are creating automated delivery networks for goods, built on a network of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) operating autonomously.
Entertainment: Companies such as Verge provide events and venues showcasing live drone performances. Other companies, such as Cape Productions, offer customers the ability to fly drones and record media content remotely.
Non-Aerial: Startups in this category fit the definition of drones but are non-aerial in nature. For example, Clearpath Robotics is automating many of the world’s most dangerous jobs with intelligent service robots. Though they do manufacture aerial drones, they are heavily focused on land and marine drone technology. Other examples include Saildrone, which collects ocean data from a fleet of unmanned, autonomous sailing drones.
Navigation & Autonomy: These companies are focused on enabling autonomy or helping drones better navigate their environments. Companies, such as Echodyne, are developing high-performance agile imaging radar hardware with computer vision software for classification, recognition, and perception. Others, such as Iris Automation, are enabling safer drone operation through intelligent collision avoidance systems.
Airspace Management: Startups like Unifly provide Unmanned Traffic Management and Drone Operations Management Software. Others, like Airmap, provide a comprehensive digital map that allows unmanned aircraft system (UAS or drone) operators to visualize the airspace around them, including areas where they may not be permitted to fly.
Military & Defense: Companies like Dedrone have engineered a system that provides early warning of illegal UAVs and is used to protect industrial plants, government buildings, and other critical infrastructure. Others, such as Aptonomy, develop intelligent security drones that serve as flying security guards, while Aeryon Labs allows police, military, and civil users to easily collect real-time aerial intelligence.
Insurance Providers: Startups in this category provide insurance for drone flyers. Flock aggregates and analyzes data to quantify drone flight risks in real-time and Verifly provides on-demand, precision drone insurance.
Marketplace: These companies look to connect people to drone content through online portals. DroneBase provides on-demand drone services where customers can prompt a local drone pilot to capture imagery, video, maps, and analysis for a given project. Airstoc is a dedicated marketplace for the professional drone industry, connecting customers with operators around the world.
See the full company list below:
|EHANG||GGV Capital, Oriental Fortune Capital, ZhenFund||Manufacturers|
|Zero Zero Technologies (Hover)||GSR Ventures, IDG Capital, ZhenFund||Manufacturers|
|Global Energy Transmission Corporation||Draper Associates, IP Fund||Manufacturers|
|DJI Innovations||Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital China||Manufacturers|
|uVify||K Cube Ventures||Manufacturers|
|Teal Drone||Pelion Venture Partners||Manufacturers|
|Flypro Aerospace Tech||Shenzhen Capital Group Co., Yihua Group||Manufacturers|
|ideaForge Technology||IndusAge Partners, Infosys Technologies, Walden Riverwood Ventures||Manufacturers|
|Prioria Robotics||Athenian Venture Partners, Emergent Growth Fund, Florida Gulfshore Capital||Manufacturers|
|Squadrone Systems (Hexo-)||Kickstarter, Living Water Investment Corp.||Manufacturers|
|Airware||Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, RRE Ventures||Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping|
|CrowdAI||Y Combinator||Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping|
|PrecisionHawk||DuPont, Intel Capital, Verizon Ventures||Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping|
|Propeller Aerobotics||Accel Partners, Blackbird Ventures, Costanoa Venture Capital||Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping|
|Skycatch||Autodesk Spark Innovation Fund, ff Venture Capital, Google Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures||Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping|
|Unearth Technologies||John Boswell, John Case||Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping|
|DroneDeploy||Data Collective, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Redpoint Ventures||Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping|
|3D Robotics||Autodesk Forge Fund, Foundry Group, Mayfield Fund, Qualcomm Ventures||Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping|
|TraceAir Technologies||500 Accelerator||Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping|
|Hangar Technology||Fontinalis Partners, Haystack Partners, Lux Capital||Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping|
|Dronomy||31Ventures, Battery Ventures, LocalGlobe||Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping|
|Botlink||Undisclosed||Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping|
|Kespry||DCM Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Rothenberg Ventures||Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping|
|Farmshots||Y Combinator||Precision Agriculture|
|Raptor Maps||Commercial Drone Fund, Founder.org, Y Combinator||Precision Agriculture|
|SlantRange||Mainsail Partners, The Investor Group||Precision Agriculture|
|American Robotics||Brain Robotics Capital||Precision Agriculture|
|BetterView||500 Startups, Compound Ventures, Plug and Play Accelerator||Inspection & Monitoring|
|SkySpecs||R/GA Accelerator, Venture Investors||Inspection & Monitoring|
|Sky-Futures||Bristow Group, Commercial Drone Fund, MMC Ventures||Inspection & Monitoring|
|Flyability||Environmental Technologies Fund, Go Beyond Network, MKS Switzerland||Inspection & Monitoring|
|CyPhy Works||Bessemer Venture Partners, Felicis Ventures, General Catalyst, In-Q-Tel||Inspection & Monitoring|
|Airobotics||BlueRun Ventures, CRV||Inspection & Monitoring|
|SkyX Systems||Kuang-Chi||Inspection & Monitoring|
|Flirtey||Bessemer Venture Partners, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures||Delivery & Transport|
|Natilus||Tim Draper, Starburst Ventures||Delivery & Transport|
|Matternet||Andreessen Horowitz, Daimler, QueensBridge Venture Partners||Delivery & Transport|
|Flytrex||Armada Investment Group||Delivery & Transport|
|Starship Technologies||Daimler, Matrix Partners, Shasta Ventures||Delivery & Transport|
|Zipline International||Andreessen Horowitz, Felicis Ventures, Google Ventures, Sequoia Capital||Delivery & Transport|
|Drone Racing League||Allianz, Lux Capital, RSE Ventures||Entertainment|
|Prenav||Crosslink Capital, Pear, WI Harper Group||Entertainment|
|Cape Productions||Madrona Venture Group, New Enterprise Associates, XSeed Capital||Entertainment|
|Clearpath Robotics||Caterpillar Ventures, GE Ventures, RRE Ventures||Non-Arial|
|Orobotix (Seadrone)||500 Accelerator||Non-Arial|
|Saildrone||Lux Capital, Social Capital||Non-Arial|
|Echodyne||Bill Gates, Lux Capital, In-Q-Tel, New Enterprise Associates||Navigation & Autonomy|
|Percepto||Indiegogo, Mark Cuban, Microsoft Accelerator||Navigation & Autonomy|
|Neurala||Draper Associates, NASA, Sherpa Capital||Navigation & Autonomy|
|Iris Automation||GGV Capital, Social Capital, Y Combinator||Navigation & Autonomy|
|Swift Navigation||First Round Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Promus Ventures||Navigation & Autonomy|
|Dronesmith||Techstars||Navigation & Autonomy|
|CompoundEye||K9 Ventures||Navigation & Autonomy|
|Skydio||Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz||Navigation & Autonomy|
|Fortem Technologies||Data Collective, Signia Venture Partners||Navigation & Autonomy|
|vHive||StageOne Ventures||Airspace Management|
|Unifly||PMV, Qbic Venture Partners||Airspace Management|
|AirMap||General Catalyst, Lux Capital, Microsoft Ventures, Social Capital||Airspace Management|
|SkySafe||Andreessen Horowitz, BoxGroup, Founder Collective, Red Sea Ventures||Military & Defense|
|ApolloShield||Y Combinator||Military & Defense|
|Aptonomy||Y Combinator||Military & Defense|
|Aeryon Labs||Summit Partners||Military & Defense|
|Dedrone||Felicis Ventures, Menlo Ventures, Cisco Systems||Military & Defense|
|Airspace Systems||Shasta Ventures||Military & Defense|
|Flock||R/GA IoT Venture Studio||Insurance Providers|
|Verifly||Slow Ventures, Social Capital||Insurance Providers|
|Dronebase||Rothenberg Ventures, Upfront Ventures, Union Square Ventures||Marketplace|
|Airstoc||LAUNCHub Ventures, Point Nine Capital||Marketplace|
|Hivemapper||Founder Collective, Google Ventures, Homebrew, Spark Capital||Marketplace|
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