NTT DOCOMO Ventures, Inc. (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan; President and CEO, Takayuki Inagawa; hereinafter “NDV”), through a fund it operates, has invested in Skydio, Inc. (headquartered in Redwood City, California, USA; CEO and Co-founder, Adam Bry; hereinafter “Skydio”), a company developing autonomous drones leveraging AI technologies.
The drone market has been expanding in enterprise industries such as inspection, agriculture, aerial photography, and logistics as well as in the consumer space, and the market is expected to continue to grow. New technologies can help solve challenges with drone operations and help accelerate growth. For example, one key challenge for manually operated drones is that drone pilots need to master flight operation to avoid accidents and this requires deep expertise and training time. New automation technology can ease the burden and improve drone operations dramatically.
Skydio is developing drones based on the founders’ 10+ years’ experience pioneering autonomous flight. The company commercialized a new drone “Skydio 2” in the winter 2019. Cameras on the drone combined with world leading computer vision technology enable it to understand a 360 degree view of its environment in real time while flying. These technologies are at the core of Skydio’s autonomy engine which enables the drone to autonomously follow a specified subject avoiding obstacles; it can also avoid collisions even when manually operated. The drone can also safely fly inside a GPS-denied areas (inside buildings for example) using the camera-based technologies.
NDV believes that drones with advanced autonomous flight and obstacle avoidance technologies are crucial to accelerate the drone market expansion. The importance of easy, autonomous drone operation and the strength of Skydio’s team and technology are two reasons behind the investment by NDV. The investment and partnership will contribute to Skydio’s market development and international growth, and NDV continues to focus on technologies which contribute to the drone market expansion in various industries.
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