As the use of aircraft such as drones, electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles, and unmanned aerial vehicles takes off, the Japanese startup Terra Drones wanted to make sure the sky trade wasn’t overlooked.
“Our airspace will be more crowded than ever, but most companies today are focused solely on hardware development,” said Terra Drone CEO and founder. Toru Tokushige, who is also the CEO of Terra Motors, the company that develops electric vehicles. “There is an urgent need for a global air traffic management solution to enable safe and efficient drone operations and urban air mobility (UAM), and Terra Drone aims to be the leading player in building digital infrastructure in the sky.”
Founded in 2016, Terra Drone develops drone software, hardware, and drone system traffic management solutions. The company said Wednesday that it closed a $70 million Series B round (JPY 8 billion) led by Mitsui Group. The latest round, which brings its total funding to $83 million, comes about a year after it raised $14.4 million Series A in February 2021.
Other investors SBI Investment, Tokyu Land Corporation, Kushu Electric Power, Seika Corporation, JOIN (Japan Foreign Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development) and foreign investor Venture Lab Investment also participated in this round.
Teppei Seki, COO of Terra Drone, said in an interview with TechCrunch that the company will use Series B to grow headcount and drive global expansion into Europe, the US, and Southeast Asia. Seki said the money will also be used to acquire companies in those regions.
The company acquired a drone company based in the Netherlands, Terra Inspirationin 2018 and invested in Belgian drone company Unifly in 2016.
Additionally, the startup says the proceeds will be used to support autonomous technology beyond the visual field of vision for drones and air taxis through its traffic management solutions. unmanned aerial vehicle systems and enhanced development of Terra’s UAM services.
When asked about the next plan after Series B, Seki told TechCrunch that Terra Drone considers going public. The company could also raise another amount of money before the IPO, Seki added.
Terra Drone has about 500 customers including oil and gas companies such as Shell, Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Vopak and Inpex Corporation of Japan as well as chemical companies such as BASF and Kansai Electric Power. Seki told TechCrunch that the company also provides inspection services to food company Bunge and survey services to construction companies.
Notably, the oil and gas industry, which mainly focuses on testing rigs to ensure safety and better operation, invest about 50.76 billion dollars According to the Fortune Business Insights report published in February 2022 annually to monitor onshore and offshore pipelines, according to the Fortune Business Insights report published in February 2022. Terra Drones can identify the defects such as corrosion in the structure, coating failure and any other structural damage, Seki said. The global drone surveillance market is expected to grow to $476.5 million by 2028from $142 million in 2021. The global UAM market is expected to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2040, according to Terra’s IR exchange.
Terra Drone is working on projects with a number of Japanese companies and governments such as TEPCO, Japan Airlines, KDDI, Japan’s leading telecommunications company, Inpex, and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport carriage. The startup has also worked with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to coordinate the flight management of the crew and manned aircraft.
Seki told TechCrunch that the company’s key differentiator and distinctive feature is its patented technology that allows the drone to press the ultrasonic test, or ultrasonic thickness transducer, against the surface. side without scaffolding to measure wall thickness.
“Focus on growing recurring revenue through selling survey-grade hardware and software like Terra LiDAR (light detection and range) and Terra LiDAR Cloud, which offers specialized services like thickness measurement by ultrasonic (UT) and non-destructive testing (NDT) using drones through [subsidiary] Terra Inspectioneering; and the strategic consolidation of our overseas business has put us well positioned for success,” said Tokushige. “We will be able to scale operations and innovate faster.”
Terra Drone competes with global drone companies, including UK’s Sky-Futures, Malaysia’s CyberHawk and Aerodyne. France-based AirMap and YellowScan, a developer of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) systems, are also its competitors, Seki mentioned.
Terra Drone has 60 employees, while its subsidiaries have around 500 employees globally.