Israeli drone maker Percepto raises $67 million after US regulatory nod

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Percepto, an Israeli maker of autonomous drones that monitor and inspect critical industrial sites, said it secured $67 million in Series C equity and debt funding, just a month after getting a regulatory nod to expand the use of the commercial operations of its remote uncrewed aircraft systems across the United States.

The Series C equity and debt funding round was led by Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT), an investment arm of US industrial conglomerate Koch Industries, alongside new investors including New York-based asset management firm Zimmer Partners. Other existing investors US Venture Partners, Delek US Holdings, Atento Capital, Spider Capital and Arkin Holdings also took part.

Founded in 2014 by Dor Abuhasira, Sagi Blonder, Raviv Raz and Ariel Avital, Percepto has raised more than $120 million in capital from investors to date.

The industrial drone maker uses on-site drones partly powered by robots to automate inspections, emergency response and security for critical infrastructure and industrial sites like electric utilities, power plants, refineries, and mines.

The drones can be deployed, for example, for autonomous power grid inspections and are equipped with software and computer vision technology that automatically uploads images and video of power lines to a management system in the cloud. Data and information collection are analyzed by advanced AI algorithms for the detection of the slightest changes and faults. The system automatically sends notification alerts of issues such as gas leaks or overheating to users so they can quickly address any problems that need attention before they escalate into costly incidents, such as network failures.

Last month, Percepto was granted a waiver from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the firm says paves the way for “mass autonomous drone deployments across the US.”

The FAA issued a so-called nationwide “beyond-visual-line-of-sight,” or BVLOS waiver, allowing the company  to provide any US critical infrastructure site with remotely operated automated drones that perform tasks that would otherwise be done manually without the need for individual site specific regulatory approval. The waiver removes logistical and cost barriers, such as the need for radars or people on the ground, Percepto said in a statement.

Under the terms of the waiver, Percepto is permitted to operate BVLOS drone flights 200 feet above and around assets located on critical infrastructure sites.

“Organizations are increasingly discovering the benefits of autonomous and remote drone operations to automate facility inspections and data analysis across their sites,” said Abuhasira, Percepto’s co-founder and CEO. “With this new round of funding, new strategic investors, and the new regulations that significantly increase the access to using autonomous drones, the conditions are ripe for the autonomous drone market to expand, and for Percepto to meet the growing demand for automated drone inspections and monitoring at industrial sites.”

Percepto has a research and development center in Modiin and offices in the US, and employs more than 70 people. Its software and hardware solutions are used by Fortune 500 customers across six continents including Siemens Energy, Delek US, Koch Industries companies, ICL Dead Sea Works, Italy’s Enel, Florida Power and Light, and Johnson Controls.

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