Skyqraft, a startup using AI and drones for electricity power-line inspection, raises $505K

Skyqraft, a Swedish startup using AI and drones for electricity power-line inspection, has picked up $505,000 in early backing.

Leading the round is “startup generator” and investor Antler, with participation from a number of angels, including Claes Ekström and Tomas Kåberger.

Founded in March 2019 and launched that September, Skyqraft provides what it calls “smart” infrastructure inspections for power-lines. It uses unmanned airplanes, combined with AI, to gather images and detect risk automatically.

This is in contrast to the status quo, where power-lines are typically inspected by teams of people and helicopters, which isn’t ideal on a number of fronts.

“Power-line inspections most importantly are not environmentally friendly, very costly and unsafe with the use of helicopters and people,” Skyqraft co-founder and CMO Sakina Turabali tells TechCrunch. “We provide smart infrastructure inspections using unmanned airplanes by gathering images and 360 videos and feeding that data into a machine learning system that automatically detects any risk to the power-lines.”

Skyqraft says it has already achieved several key milestones, including having a contract in place with one customer that has stopped using helicopters for yearly inspections. The company is also working on pilots with Eon, two Swedish municipalities and New York Gas and Electric.

“Our competitors are mainly quadcopter drone operators,” said Turabali. “And they inspect only the transmission grids. We on the other hand, offer our customers a full service and inspect both transmission and distribution grids also using our machine learning system to detect any threats automatically.

“Some of our competitors also only provide machine learning software and do not fly with drones and inspect the grid. They usually get their data set from partners’ flying drones. In a machine learning (ML) world, successful ML is 85% data handling and 15% software work. We use a uniform aircraft camera setup that can gather data in a swift and cost-efficient manner. That means we will do the data handling in a streamlined manner from the beginning and have total control of the data acquisition platform, i.e. the aircraft plus cameras.”

Meanwhile, Skyqraft says it will use the new funding for building further machine learning software, and expanding the map user interface for its customers. It will also continue to build out its drone operation teams, and test new apparatus.

In a statement, Lisa Enckell, partner of Antler, adds: “Skyqraft has developed a new solution on an unsolved problem. Their focus on emerging data collection methods gives them the opportunity to make an industry safer, more efficient and more sustainable. We’re delighted to be part of this journey.”