Home Artificial Intelligence Drone imagery firm DroneBase rebrands to Zeitview, lands $55M investment

Drone imagery firm DroneBase rebrands to Zeitview, lands $55M investment

Drone imagery firm DroneBase rebrands to Zeitview, lands $55M investment

Zeitview, the corporate formerly often called DroneBase, today announced that it raised $55 million to further develop its air and ground data capture tech. Led by Valor Equity Partners with participation from Union Square Ventures, Upfront Ventures, Euclidean Capital, Energy Transition Ventures and Hearst Ventures, the tranche — which brings Zeitview’s war chest to $114 million — might be put toward product expansion, customer acquisition and ongoing recruitment efforts, CEO Dan Burton said in an interview with TechCrunch.

Zeitview was founded in 2014 with the goal of bringing a latest resource to businesses: the sky. With a passion for drones and other cutting-edge tech, Burton says he saw a possibility to make use of airborne robotics and sensors to capture data about how assets — for instance, solar panels and turbines — change over time.

After serving within the military, Burton did a brief stint at Goldman Sachs and made the leap in 2014 to launch Zeitview. He claims to have personally flown the corporate’s first 100 or so drone missions.

“I used to be convinced that robotics could enable advanced inspections that were safer, faster, more accurate and more cost-effective than old-school analog inspections,” Burton said via email. “For global customers in energy and infrastructure, Zeitview delivers advanced inspection software that improves asset performance and longevity while lowering operating cost.”

I haven’t checked Burton’s math — Zeitview’s solutions won’t be cheaper than manual inspections, depending on just how involved the inspections in query are. However it’s fair to say that it’s more technologically sophisticated.

Using drones, Zeitview captures data — including images and thermal readings — on infrastructure like wind turbines and solar panels and runs that data through AI algorithms. The algorithms screen for anomalies comparable to damaged turbine blades and classify them, alerting customers to issues as they crop up.

Zeitview deals not only with asset owners but with investors, utility firms and policymakers, to whom it sells inspection imagery and machine learning-powered insights. For instance, Zeitview scans large-scale solar plants and rates them on a scale of 1 to 3, where each letter represents a side of the sites’ condition; the rankings are then bundled right into a premium reporting service.

Image Credits: Zeitview

Since its founding, Zeitview claims it’s deployed drones to snap photos of wind turbines within the Atlantic Ocean, real estate complexes after a Texas hurricane and thermal data from “utility-scale” solar farms.

“We’ve got expertise across asset classes and we support any way a customer desires to capture data: as a service all around the world via our network, inspect themselves using our software or hybrid models,” Burton said. “We concentrate on reducing our customers’ operations and maintenance spend while providing safer, faster and more accurate answers.”

Drones might not be the buzzword of the moment, but investors proceed to shower specialized drone ventures — like those with analytics components — with capital. In keeping with one source, VC investments in drone firms reached $7 billion in 2021 across 199 deals, up from $2.4 billion in 2022.

Zeitview competes with vendors like PrecisionHawk, Skyspecs and Raptor Maps within the emerging drone services market. Other rivals include Prenav, which is developing a drone-based system that lets firms remotely inspect infrastructure comparable to buildings and mobile phone towers, and Saildrone, which operates a fleet of seafaring drones that collect data from the world’s oceans.

For its part, Zeitview, which has around 200 employees, claims to count amongst its customer base “most of the leading OEMs in renewable energy in addition to major asset owners and operations and maintenance providers for wind and solar assets” — plus insurance, roofing and property management firms. “As a startup enabling advanced inspection, we accelerated through the pandemic with robotics-based solutions that leveraged local operators and global software,” Burton added.

Zeitview, it should be noted, is benefiting from the strength of the broader segment for aerial imaging. Global Market Insights predicts that it’ll reach $25 billion by 2032, driven by technological advancements and innovation. Because the report notes, aerial photography plays a “major,” very timely role in documenting the results of climate change, protecting resources and — optimistically — reducing emissions, amongst many others.

“An increase within the cases of natural disasters, comparable to floods, tropical cyclones, storm surges and wildfires, will amplify the importance and demand for advanced aerial imaging solutions to evaluate the damages attributable to such events,” the Global Market Insights authors wrote.

Those thoughts align with Energy Transition Ventures’ Neal Dikeman’s. He said via email:

“Aerial inspection is a fundamental requirement within the renewable energy and infrastructure industry, and Zeitview stands out because the only company able to providing this service within the built environment, renewables and utility infrastructure sectors globally,” Burton said. “Their commitment to reducing inspection costs for patrons worldwide positions them as a pacesetter in driving the energy transition market forward.”



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