Percepto gets FAA waiver, and more capital

Fresh from receiving a nationwide waiver to operate unmanned aircraft systems on critical infrastructure sites from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), autonomous drone inspection and monitoring solution provider Percepto has just announced a capital injection of $67million, following a Series C equity and debt funding round.

The round was led by Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT), alongside new investors Zimmer Partners and one of the largest U.S. energy companies. It also included Percepto’s existing investors – US Venture Partners, Delek US Holdings, Atento Capital, Spider Capital and Arkin Holdings, and brings the total investment in the company to more than $120 million.

Both the waiver and the latest financial injection are a massive show of trust in the capability of drone technology to autonomously and effectively carry out industrial tasks like the infrastructure monitoring and inspection missions that Percepto is looking increasingly adept at.

Basically, Percepto’s drones are now authorised to take off from their docking nests to carry out missions and return back into the nests without human intervention. As Percepto explained, the approval allows the company to operate uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) in shielded airspace, without humans onsite, and without any ground-based or airborne detect and avoid (DAA) systems, for inspection and monitoring operations at critical and non-critical infrastructure sites nationwide.

Under the waiver, low risk “shielded” BVLOS operations will be allowed 200 feet above and around assets located on critical infrastructure sites. At non-critical infrastructure sites, shielded BVLOS operations are permitted 50 feet higher than the tallest obstruction located within a half-mile of the site.

The company says its latest achievement was a boon for the whole industry as the latter seeks to scale true BVLOS UAS operations for inspection and monitoring and is a crucial step in fully integrating UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS).

“Percepto is very grateful to the FAA staff for their engagement and consideration of our application for this important waiver,” said Neta Gliksman, Percepto VP of Policy and Government Affairs. “This waiver will help usher in a new era of scalable UAS operations that will benefit the critical infrastructure industry immediately, and in the future, in ways we haven’t even yet imagined.”

About the new capital investment, Percepto said the money would be channelled towards helping organisations save large amounts of money by solving the operational challenges in maintaining reliable critical infrastructure, meeting high productivity expectations, and staying safe at all levels of operation.

In one instance, Percepto said an oil and gas customer using its Air Max OGI drone detected within hours a methane gas leak that could have gone unnoticed for months using conventional methods, saving the company millions of dollars, minimizing safety risks to workers, and preventing environmental damage.

“KDT’s reinvestment underlines their confidence in our ability to make companies more profitable by keeping infrastructure operational in the face of the unpredictable,” said Percepto Co-founder and CEO Dor Abuhasira.

“Organisations are increasingly discovering the benefits of autonomous and remote drone operations to automate facility inspections and data analysis across their sites. 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.”

The money will also go towards perfecting the Percepto Autonomous Inspection & Monitoring (AIM), an end-to-end visual inspection solution powered by autonomous drones, robots and AI, enables critical infrastructure sites to increase the frequency and quality of inspections via automation.

According to Percept, the solution automates the entire visual inspection workflow, from data collection to AI-powered analysis and insights. It enables faster detection of issues that include gas leaks, overheating and infrastructure deterioration; thus, also triggering preventative measures to make sites more productive while minimising the risk of environmental and safety incidents to meet their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals.

“Percepto is a powerful force in boosting the accessibility of automated drones for industrial inspection and monitoring,” said Chase Koch, Founder and CEO of Koch Disruptive Technologies.

“Having deployed Percepto’s technology across various Koch companies, we are experiencing first-hand how its innovative R&D improves inspection and monitoring. Their work to create a clear regulatory path for this technology puts it in a strong market position, firmly stationed at the forefront of the industry.

“We look forward to continuing our journey with Percepto as it sets the new standard for making industrial operations safe, efficient and sustainable.”


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