Listen to this article
Treeswift, a company that offers a drone-based data collection solution for forests, closed a $4.8 million seed funding round. The company has raised $6.4 million to date.
TreeSwift’s product, SwiftCruise, involves a swarm of drones that navigate under the forest canopy to quickly collect data. The drones can collect individual tree metrics with cameras, LiDAR sensors and advanced machine learning algorithms.
“Our mission is to build the data ecosystem for the natural world, and we are accomplishing that by capturing important data from below the forest canopy,” Steven Chen, Treeswift’s co-founder and CEO, said. “We anticipate that Treeswift technology will help to obtain a more transparent, verifiable, and accurate view of the planet from the ground up.”
Treeswift was founded in 2020 as a spin-off from the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing & Perception (GRASP) Lab. It was co-founded by Chen, Elizabeth Hunter, now the COO, Michael Shomin, now the CTO, and Vaibhav Arcot, now the senior software engineer.
Treeswift claims SwiftCruise is 10 times faster than typical data collection methods, like timber cruisers, who manually gather data with tape measures and clipboards. Treeswift’s drones can be used in carbon capture estimation, timber value appraisals, fire mitigation, biomass understory, deforestation monitoring, advanced growth forecasting and overall forest management.
Pathbreaker Ventures, an investment firm that specializes in investing in pre-seed and seed rounds, led the round. Crosslink Capital, TenOneTen Ventures, Contour Venture Partners, Boom Capital Ventures, Yes VC, Susa Ventures, Draft Ventures, Anorak Ventures, S7 Ventures, Awesome People Ventures, Switch Ventures, Convective Capital and Dorm Room Fund also participated in the round.
Treeswift is currently planning and running a number of deployments. The company is working with Molpus Woodlands Group, a Mississippi-based company that manages around 1.7 million acres of timberland investments in 17 states, Superior Pine Products Company, a company that manages a diversified portfolio of natural resources, and Weyerhaeuser Company. Treeswift is helping the companies estimate forest timber quantity and carbon volumes.
“The Molpus team has been particularly impressed with Treeswift’s ability to accurately allocate trees into product classes and to identify stem quality issues impacting value,” said Randy Taylor, senior director, resource planning of Molpus Woodlands Group. “Understanding and accurately maintaining timber inventories play an important part in managing our clients’ forests to their potential.”
Treeswift is advised by Dr. Harold Burkhard of Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation and Dr. Vijay Kumar, the Nemirovsky Family Dean of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania GRASP Laboratory.