DroneDeploy, an image analysis platform for commercial drone operators, has raised $25 million in a series C round of funding led by the Invenergy Future Fund, with participation from Scale Venture Partners, Uncork Capital, Emergence Capital, AngelPad, and AirTree.

Founded in 2013, San Francisco-based DroneDeploy gives commercial drone operators a platform that enables them to map, survey, and inspect images captured by drones. The company also offers a mobile app that’s compatible with DJI drones, allowing them to automatically capture flight data from the skies. DroneDeploy can be used by anyone, but it’s really aimed at companies that need to harness data from drones, including those working in the agriculture, mining, construction, and insurance realms.

Prior to now, DroneDeploy had raised around $31 million in funding, and with another $25 million in the bank it plans to expand its data platform into new industries around the world.

“We started DroneDeploy to make drones accessible tools to everyone, and we’ve since become the world’s largest commercial drone software platform by providing drone software that’s both easy to use and powerful,” said DroneDeploy CEO and cofounder Mike Winn. “With this new funding round, we have the opportunity to work with more customers who will bring our drone data platform to new industries and transform workflows on every job site.”

Growth industry

Reports suggest that the commercial drone market will be a $127 billion industry by 2020, which may be why startups have been striving to grab their share of the pie — and quite a few investors have taken note. Late last year, rival Kespry secured $33 million in financing, while a few months back DroneBase scored $12 million to bring augmented reality to aerial drone imagery. PrecisionHawk also recently secured a mammoth $75 million funding round to grow its commercial drone platform, before going on to acquire Droners and AirVid to create a massive network of licensed drone pilots.

There are big opportunities in drone-related software, and DroneDeploy is very much at the forefront of the movement.

“Our investment process into this market was customer-led,” added John Tough, partner at the Invenergy Future Fund. “The consistent theme we heard from customers was that DroneDeploy’s product and accompanying applications helped achieve significant ROI and reduce risk on the job site.”

DroneDeploy said it has a community of 30,000 users who have collectively mapped more than 30 million acres around the world. The company’s latest funding round comes shortly after startup Cape Analytics announced it had nabbed $17 million to grow its aerial imagery platform, meshing computer vision with geospatial imagery to bring property intelligence to insurance companies. And this is something we are increasingly seeing across all industries — artificial intelligence (AI) is playing a huge role in efforts to organize and interpret the vast swathes of data generated by connected technologies.

With that in mind, DroneDeploy plans to invest “heavily” in AI so it can “build new workflows that solve some of the toughest challenges facing companies today,” according to a statement issued by the company.

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