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Skygauge Robotics announced today that it has closed a seed round of $3.3 million CAD ($2.55 million U.S.) to “build the workforce in the sky.” The Toronto-based company said it will use the new funding to expand its team and build out its drone inspection and maintenance technology.
Skygauge claimed that its patented design enables industrial applications that are not currently possible with other aerial drones. The company said its system can reduce the time and cost of work, as well as improve operator safety by keeping them from working in high locations.
“We formed Skygauge Robotics in 2016 when we noticed a lack of design innovation in the drone industry,” stated Nikita Iliushkin, CEO of Skygauge. “Around the start of the decade, we were promised a very ambitious vision that drones would do any type of job, yet the industry is mostly composed of drones taking pictures and videos for data collection.”
“We realized this stemmed from limitations with current designs,” he added. “They were not stable enough to do more physical work and so we had to invent a new way for drones to fly.”
Skygauge Robotics builds maneuverability for industry
Skygauge Robotics said its team used a patented thrust-vectoring design to create a drone that can maneuver with a full six degrees of freedom. Its initial target market is in ultrasonic testing of industrial structures such as tanks.
“Conventional drones struggle to interact with the world because they can’t direct the forces required for any kind of job,” said Linar Ismagilov, chief designer and inventor at Skygauge. “They can hover and fly well, but they can’t push, pull, or twist, making them unsuitable for physical work.”
The company is expanding its staff at its offices in the Toronto/Hamilton area in Ontario, Canada. “Using this funding, we will go from our prototype to a commercial product, and we’re hiring driven engineers to help us get there” said Maksym Korol, chief technology officer at Skygauge.
Once it successfully captures the inspection market, Skygauge said it plans to branch to tasks including painting and coating, spraying, pressure washing, drilling, paint removal, high-rise window washing, welding, and general construction.
Investors add industry expertise
BDC Capital Corp.’s Industrial Innovation Venture Fund led Skygauge Robotics’ seed round, with participation from RiSC Capital and follow-on from existing investors SOSV (through the HAX accelerator) and Hello Ventures.
Industry veterans Dave Kroetsch, founder and former CEO of drone maker Aeryon Labs, and John Bowles, CEO at inspection technology company Inversa Systems, will be joining Skygauge’s board of directors. Guillaume Mercier, a partner with BDC Capital’s Industrial Innovation Venture Fund, will also join the company’s board.
“Robotics is all about reducing human involvement in dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks” said Cyril Ebersweiler, founder and Managing Director of HAX, from which Skygauge graduated in 2019. “HAX invested when we saw the impact the Skygauge would have in these conventional industries.”
“Falls from height are the No. 1 cause of worker death from OSHA’s ‘fatal four,’ and Skygauge Robotics will eliminate these risks by keeping workers on the ground,” Ebersweiler said. “Skygauge has experienced a surge in demand for their product during COVID-19, as worker safety and reducing time on site have become paramount concerns for employers.”
“The previous decade saw many drone companies come and go,” said Joe Regan, managing partner at BDC’s Industrial Innovation Venture Fund. “Skygauge Robotics is among the next groundbreaking inventions that will create a new industry. They have a great vision for the future with a driven founding team and revolutionary technology to make it happen.”