AutoModality, which builds drone flight control software designed for infrastructure inspections raised $3.8 million in funding this month.
The funding came from LiteCap and Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory (ACSL), adding onto existing investments. AutoModality in 2017 received funding from startup accelerator GENIUS NY after winning the accelerator’s funding competition program and taking the $1 million grand prize investment. Prior to that, the company won DJI’s 2016 SDK Challenge competition
Also in 2017, AutoModality took investment money from SkyFund, which is backed by DJI, and venture capital firm Accel.
AutoModality, which was founded in 2014, is primarily used for inspections of bridges, culverts, rolling-stock and cell towers. Their autonomous system can sense, explore and analyze infrastructure using DJI drones equipped with stereo cameras, computer vision, onboard computers and sensors. Its clients have included railroad giant Union Pacific (Union Pacific was among the first railroad companies to use drones, having received FAA
approval to use drones in 2015).
Drones for infrastructure inspections are ideal because flights can be replicated on a regular basis if automated mission-planning software is used. Drone inspections also tend to be safer and more cost-efficient.
A 2018 analysis from drone research and consulting group Skylogic Research found that drone-based services would provide a value of
$12.3 billion alone, further projecting that value to grow about
15% per year over the next five years, and total more than $21.5 billion by 2023.
“Suffice it to say, we believe the opportunity is good, and the potential for growth in this sector is high,” according to Skylogic’s report.
Though, the infrastructure industry is crowded, with many businesses vying for business including Skycatch, PrecisionHawk, Pix4D and Delair, among others.