Dron Terra announced today that it has raised $14 million in Series C funding from Wa’ed Ventures, Saudi Arabia’s venture capital arm, marking the venture capital firm’s first investment in Asia.
The Japan-based company, which develops drone software and hardware and traffic management software for drones, said its new capital has raised a total of $97 million since its inception in 2016. According to sources familiar with the situation, the startup was valued at more than $200 million in March last year, when Terra Drone landed a $70 million Series B contract.
The move is in line with Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” plan, which sets targets to reduce national dependence on hydrocarbons and encourage the use of drones in the service sector. For example, fossil fuel companies in Saudi Arabia will use the Terra Drone technology for inspection services. Drones are designed to detect oil leaks, for example. Saudi Aramco is the world’s largest oil producer and plans to increase fossil fuel production in the coming years, despite the scientific consensus that such activities are ruining the Earth’s climate.
Teppei Seki, director of Terra Drone, told TechCrunch that the startup participated in a drone program led by the Saudi nation of Aramco and was run for Saudi Vision 2030 last year.
The $500 billion Neom project in Saudi Arabia, a 25,600 km2 urban development project on the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba, will also utilize Unifly’s unmanned transport solutions for drone services. Terra Drone is the largest shareholder of Unifly, which will work on the Neom drone commercialization project, aiming to complete the first phase of the project by 2025.
With the recent funding, Terra Drone plans to establish a new subsidiary, Terra Drone Arabia, wholly owned by Terra Drone, and further promote drone surveys in the region. In addition, the company plans greater international penetration in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) through its new office in Saudi Arabia.
Terra Drone currently offers its drone and UAM solutions in 10 countries. Denmark uses Terra Drone’s Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management (UTM) for Danish health drones and its health drone project to transport blood and medicines. Terra Drone’s UT inspection drone has been certified as a ship inspection drone by the International Shipping Registry, the Japan-based startup said.
Since the last fundraiser, sales at its subsidiaries have increased by more than 50%, the company said.
Terra Drone CEO Toru Tokushige founded Terra Drone in 2016 to develop software for drones such as global air traffic management for collision avoidance, enabling safe and efficient drone operations and urban air mobility.
“Supported by Terra Drone’s global track record, our investment represents a compelling effort to build the UAM ecosystem in the domain of sustainable economics,” said Wa’ed Ventures Managing Director Fahad Alidi. “We anticipate the rapid adoption of UAM technology as an emerging vertical technology in the region, and Terra Drone is well positioned to localize its innovations across the region, starting with the Kingdom.”
Source: La Neta Neta
Jason Jack is an experienced technology journalist and author at The Nation View. With a background in computer science and engineering, he has a deep understanding of the latest technology trends and developments. He writes about a wide range of technology topics, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, software development, and cybersecurity.