As the use of aerial vehicles such as drones, electric VTOLs and unmanned aerial vehicles gains momentum, Japanese startup Terra Drones wants to make sure aerial human trafficking does not go unnoticed.
“Our skies will be busier than ever, but most companies today are only focused on hardware development,” said Toru Tokushige, CEO and founder of Terra Drones, who is also CEO of Terra Motors Develops for electric vehicles. “Global air traffic management solutions are urgently needed to enable the safe and efficient operation of drones and urban air mobility (UAM), and Terra Drones aims to be a leading player in the creation of digital infrastructure in the air.”
Terra Drones, founded in 2016, develops software and hardware for drones, as well as solutions for managing drone traffic. The company said Wednesday it closed a $70 million (8 billion yen) Series B round led by Mitsui Corporation. The latest round, which brought total funding to $83 million, comes almost a year after raising $14.4 million in Series A in February 2021.
The round also included other investors SBI Investment, Tokyo Land Corporation, Kushu Electric Power, Seka Corporation, JOIN (Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transportation and Urban Development) and outgoing investor Venture Lab Investment.
Terra Drones COO Tepei Seki said in an interview with gaming-updates that the company will use the B series to increase its workforce and drive its global expansion in Europe, the Americas and Southeast Asia. The money will also be used to acquire companies in these areas, said Seki, who did not disclose the company’s valuation.
In 2018, the company acquired Dutch drone company Terra Inspectioneering and in 2016 invested in Belgian company Unly.
In addition, the startup says the proceeds will be used to support visual line-of-sight autonomy technologies for drone and air taxi operations through drone motion management solutions, and to support the development of Terra’s UAM services.
When asked about the next plan after Series B, Seki told gaming-updates that Terra Drone was considering going public. Seki said the company could also raise funding ahead of the IPO.
Terra Drones has about 500 customers, including oil and gas companies such as Shell, Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Vopak and Japan’s Inpex Corporation, as well as chemical companies such as BASF and Kansai Electric Power. Seki told gaming-updates that the company also provides its inspection services to food company Bunge and testing services to manufacturing companies.
In particular, according to a Fortune Business Insights report published in February 2022, the oil and gas industry, which is primarily concerned with safety and productivity inspections of drilling rigs, has nearly a year to inspect onshore and offshore pipelines. The volume of investments is 50.76 billion dollars. Terra Drones can detect defects in structures such as corrosion, coating defects and other structural damage, Seki says. The global drone surveillance market is expected to grow from $142M in 2021 to $476.5M by 2028. According to Terra’s IR Deck, the global UAM market is expected to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2040.
Terra Drones is working on projects with several Japanese companies and governments such as TEPCO, Japan Airlines, KDDI, Japan’s leading telecommunications company Inpex, and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation. The startup is also partnering with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to coordinate manned and unmanned aircraft flight control.
Seki told gaming-updates that the company’s core expertise and hallmark is its proprietary technology, which allows drones to measure wall thickness without scaffolding to press an ultrasonic test or ultrasonic thickness gauge against a surface.
“Focus on increasing recurring revenue through sales of research-grade hardware and software such as Terra LiDAR (Light Detection and Range) and Terra LiDAR Cloud, which provide specialized services such as ultrasonic thickness measurement (UT) and non-destructive testing. ndt) uses drones through us [subsidiary] Terra Inspection; And the strategic consolidation of overseas operations has ensured our success,” said Tokushi. “We will be able to rapidly scale operations and innovation.”
Terra Drones competes with global drone manufacturers including Britain’s Sky-Futures, Cyberhawk and Malaysia’s Aerodyne. Airmap and French company Yellowscan, a developer of UAV lidar systems for drones, are also competitors, Seki said.
Terra Drones has 60 employees and around 500 employees in subsidiaries around the world.