Despite market turmoil, the drone industry raised billions of dollars across the 10 biggest venture capital (VC) deals of 2022.
Research firm GlobalData estimates the global drone market will be worth $89.6bn by 2030, up from $15.2bn in 2020.
Commercial drones will enjoy the most robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32.6% between 2020 and 2030, rising from $3.4bn to $57.0bn. Military drones will face a modest CAGR growth of just 4.8%, reaching $16.4bn by 2030.
This leaves room for hardware and software companies to step in and outsource their technologies to drone manufacturers. For drone-making companies facing restrictions in various countries, the research poured into hardware and software products helps increase the safety and reliability of their own products.
Some companies are already trying to leverage the growth of the industry to their advantage, as made evident by the 10 biggest drone deals of 2022.
Anduril Industries secures $1.48bn in Series E funding
The defence startup Anduril Industries produces drones used in enhancing national security through automated detection and identification.
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Anduril Industries led the way among the VC deals, reaching $1.48bn in funding with the help of investors from Valor Equity Partners, Thrive Capital, Founders Fund, Elad Gil, Lightspeed Ventures, Lux Capital, DFJ Growth Fund, WCM Investment Management, Lachy Groom, Marlinspike and MVP Ventures.
Anduril Industries’ valuation jumped to $2bn afterwards, nearly doubling in value since its last evaluation, which took place in June 2021.
Exotec Solutions raises $335m in Series D funding
Exotec is a French-based robot-making company deploying logistics robots for warehouses. Exotec’s Skypod is an automated storage and retrieval system which helps with the process automation.
The company struck a VC funding deal worth $335m with Goldman Sachs Asset Management, 83 North and Dell Technologies Capital in January 2022. Its valuation increased to $2bn immediately afterwards.
Exotec would use the funding to strengthen its R&D Department to employ around 500 engineers in the next three year and boost Skypod’s high-density inventory storage and retrieval capabilities.
Agility Robotics net $150m in Series B raise
Agility Robotics has designed its robots to augment human workforces’ productivity, efficiency and wellness.
According to Dealroom.com, the company was immediately valued at between $600 and $900m. The funding obtained would go into the R&D department to scale its robot production.
“Unprecedented consumer and corporate demand have created an extraordinary need for robots to support people in the workplace”, said Damion Shelton, CEO of Agility Robotics.
Echodyne secures $135m in Series C funding
Drones travel long distances and often go beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS). During flights, drones operate radars that use mapping and surveying-related information to avoid accidents, enhance airspace safety, and avoid disrupting flight routes.
Echodyne is an American manufacturer of high-performance radars for multiple applications, including unmanned aerial vehicles, using its patented ESA technology.
The company obtained $135m in Series C funding from Baillie Gifford, Bill Gates, Northrop Grumman Corporation, NEA, Madrona Ventures, Vulcan Capital and Vanedge Capital. The startup is valued between $540m and $810m, according to Dealroom.com. The funding would go into the production and distribution of the company’s radars and its production line for defence, security and autonomous machine applications.
Locus Robotics reaches $117m in Series F funding
Locus Robotics produces automated warehouse robots that increase productivity, order accuracy and more.
The drone company managed to secure $117m in a Series F funding deal in 2022.
A large number of backers supported the raise. Those included Silicon Valley Bank, Hercules Capital, HESTA Super Fund, Scale Venture Partners, Goldman Sachs, Stafford Capital Partners, Newton Investment Management (North America) Limited, Next 47 GmbH, Bond Capital Partners (UK) Limited, Stack Capital Group, G2 Venture Partners and Gray’s Creek Capital Advisors.
Locus Robotics’ valuation reached $2bn following the deal, according to a press release published on November 29, 2022.
May Mobility secures $111m in Series C venture funding
May Mobility secured $111m in Series C funding from LG Technology Ventures, Cyrus Capital Partners Europe, Maven Ventures, Toyota Tsusho Corp, Millennium Technology Value Partners, Toyota Ventures, Mirai Creation Fund II, Bridgestone Americas Inc and Tokio Marine Holdings.
According to Dealroom.com, the valuation of the company reached between $444m and $666m after the deal was announced.
May Mobility is developing autonomous driving technology, equipping cars with sensor technologies, light detection and ranging with radar and cameras to create a full 360-degree view of the world around the vehicles.
Drone companies have been striving to improve optical systems, which include cameras, lenses and electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) systems. The technology developed by May Mobility may tap into all drone sectors (military, commercial and customer) since clients ranging from professional photographers, video producers to retail companies and the military are interested in better visual technology and connectivity, especially in the case of drones operating BVLOS.
GreyOrange raises $110m in Series C funding
GreyOrange is a Singapore-based designer, manufacturer and deployer of advanced robotics systems. In May 2022, the drone company secured $110m in funding deal from BlackRock and Mithril Capital Management.
GreyOrange would use the funds to expand globally and further supply warehouses, distribution centres and retail stores with its technology.
Rokid secures $110m in Series C funding round
The Chinese startup, which focuses on human-computer interaction technology, research and artificial intelligence and hardware product development, secured $109m in funding from unknown sources to expand globally and invest in research and development.
According to Dealroom.com, the valuation of the company following the deal was between $440m and $660m.
The technology used by Rokid could help enhance virtual design and construction, especially within the remote drone control and command sector.
China is increasingly investing in the commercial and military drone markets, with the latest armed reconnaissance UAC, Cai Hong-6, showcased at the Zhuhai Airshow in September 2021.
Chinese drones are significantly cheaper than their Israeli and US counterparts and are increasingly used in monitoring borders, gathering intelligence and conducting surveillance missions.
Swift Navigation secures $100m in Series D funding
Swift announced a $100m funding deal in October 2022. The US-based company specialising in precise positioning solutions. It raised the new capital from investors like Potentum Partners, New Enterprise Associates, OVN Cap, SK, Schox Venture, EPIQ Capital Group, Eclipse Ventures, TELUS Ventures, FM Capital Partners and Buckley Ventures.
The company was immediately valued at between $400m and $600m, according to Dealroom.com.
Geek+ Technology secures $100m in Series E1 funding
The Chinese-based warehouse robotics firm Geek+ Technology raised $100m in Series E1 funding with the help of Qingyue Capital Investment, Intel Capital Corp and Vertex Growth Fund. The drone company’s valuation rose to $2bn following the 2022 deal.
GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publication.