Skyqraft, the Swedish startup using AI and drones for electricity powerline inspection, has raised $2.2 million in seed funding, capital it will use to further develop its technology and expand its operations in Europe and in the U.S.
Leading the seed round is Subvenio Invest, with participation from pre-seed backer Antler, Next Human Ventures and unnamed angel investors.
Founded in March 2019 and launched that September, Skyqraft provides what it calls “smart” infrastructure inspections for powerlines. It uses drones, combined with AI, to gather images and detect risk automatically.
This is in contrast to the status quo, where powerlines are typically inspected by teams of people and helicopters, which is time-consuming and potentially dangerous. The idea behind Skyqraft is to enable safer powerline inspections in a more cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable way.
“Powerline 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 told TechCrunch when Skyqraft announced its pre-seed funding. “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 powerlines.”
Skyqraft says the system can process high volumes of image data and is able to detect equipment issues “rapidly and with high accuracy”. By using Skyqraft, the Swedish company claims utility companies can shorten a 25km powerline inspection from two days to “three minutes”.
That proposition appears to already be resonating with customers, which include the three largest utility companies in Sweden jointly representing 85% of the Swedish market. Additionally, Skyqraft says it is also negotiating a series of larger-scale pilots in the U.S. in 2021 with the global utility company Iberdrola.