Berkeley-based drone manufacturer 3DR may be back in the game: the company announced $53 million in Series D funding on Thursday. This announcement comes less than a year from 3DR’s last influx of $26.7 million last June.
The new round included both new equity and conversion of debt equity: how much of each has not yet been disclosed. But clearly, investors are still willing to bet on 3DR’s ability to turn themselves into a commercial drone platform.
3DR’s consumer drone, the Solo, is still used by many commercial drone operators. But 3DR’s production challenges led the company to stop making Solos in 2015, shifting to a commercial platform play. 3DR’s co-founder Chris Anderson said that the company was unable to compete with manufacturing giant DJI, even after moving its own production facility overseas. An overestimate of demand had left the company with warehouses full of Solos as DJI introduced newer versions of its popular Phantom lines.
After laying off a portion of its workforce and restructuring its executive team, the company announced a “change in direction” from the consumer to the commercial drone market. 3DR’s new signature product, Site Scan, is a SaaS offering that provides flight control and cloud-based data processing. The product integrates with Autodesk (an investor and channel partner for 3DR.) The integration overlays drone data output with site-plan information from Autodesk, giving a construction team additional information.
Autodesk was a leading investor in this most recent round also. “The strategic investment from the Autodesk Forge Fund — which follows an initial investment made in early 2016 — demonstrates Autodesk’s commitment to 3DR and reality capture software,” says 3DR. “We have already harnessed the power of the Forge platform to build key features for Site Scan, and will continue to utilize Forge to accelerate product development and deepen workflow integrations with Autodesk products.”
3DR says that it will use the new funding to continue to build out Site Scan.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
Subscribe to DroneLife here.