Airobotics pushes funding past $US100m

Drone company Airobotics has raised $US30 million ($42.2 million) in its latest funding round to push its total capital to $US101 million.

It is the fourth funding round for the startup since its public launch in June 2016.

Airobotics’ drone system, which already serves several Tier 1 miners in Australia, is used for surveying, stocktaking, photogrammetry, LiDAR scans and haul road inspections at mine sites.

The Israel-based company opened its first Australian office in Perth last year and recently opened its first United States office in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Airobotics is the first company to receive flight certification from an aviation body — in this case the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) — for a fully autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) without a human control system.

The company is also working with BHP in Arizona at several of the company’s closed mine sites.

Airobotics’ drone, called Optimus, can take off and land from an automated base station called Airbase.

The Airbase features a robotic arm that can swap the UAV’s batteries and payloads (such as thermal cameras and LiDAR) to minimise downtime. It can also analyse data from flights, which can then be sent to site staff.

Airobotics has updated its drone unit with several enhancements.

“With our engineers we were able to extend the time the drone flies from 25 minutes to 40 minutes per mission,” Airobotics VP of marketing Efrat Fenigson told Australian Mining at the IMARC conference in Melbourne yesterday.

“We’ve also increased the range that the drone can fly around the docking station, so where it used to be three to four kilometres, we can now triple that with the addition of location masts.”

Airobotics has secured recent coups by bringing ex-Facebook and Google executive Richard Wooldridge onboard as chief operating officer, and appearing in a Wall Street Journal list as one of the top 25 tech companies to watch.

The company continues to grow and is currently in the process of expanding its international operations and securing further regulatory certifications with other aviation groups, including Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the US-based Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Talking about the latest funding, which came from Singapore-based Pavilion Capital, Airobotics chief executive officer and founder Ran Krauss said that the company was experiencing “massive momentum”.

“We are honoured that Pavilion Capital sees the huge potential in Airobotics’ technology and aerial data solutions,” he said.

“We have a strong business pipeline and to keep up with demand for our technology, we are continuing to expand operations across the countries in which we operate, specifically our new headquarters in the United States.”

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