While most people think of drones in the air, CA-based Saildrone Inc., is using drone technology on the ocean. Saildrone doesn’t call themselves a drone company, but rather “a provider of ocean data collected by a fleet of unmanned, autonomous sailing drones.” Used by NOAA as part of their drone exploration program, the company says that Saildrones have now covered over 60,000 nautical miles.
It looks like they’ll be covering a lot more ocean. Saildrone announced today that it has closed a $14 million in Series A funding, led by Social Capital with investments from the Capricorn Investment Group and Lux Capital. The funding will be used to expand Saildrone’s fleet, develop Saildrone’s data processing capacity, and scale commercial operations.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with like-minded investors, who are mission driven and have deep expertise in marrying innovative hardware with big data,” said Richard Jenkins, founder and CEO of Saildrone in a press statement. “Data collected by the Saildrones will not only transform the understanding of our oceans, but will also bring insight into issues like weather, fish populations, ocean acidification and climate change — processes that will affect every person on this planet. Understanding these processes, and their rate of change, is crucial to our economies and ultimately, our survival.”
“The most valuable technology companies of our generation are ones that collect massive and important data sets,” said Ted Maidenberg, co-founder and partner at Social Capital. “Oceans cover over 70 percent of the earth’s surface, but we know very little about them due to the historically prohibitive cost of research. At Social Capital, we’re excited about the vast commercial applications of Saildrone-collected data as well as how these unprecedented insights into our oceans will help the world move beyond debate and into action when it comes to climate change.”
Dipender Saluja, Managing Director of the Capricorn Investment Group, which has invested in companies like SpaceX, Planet Labs, QuantumScape and Tesla, said that the company is “democratizing the oceans.” “Saildrone is enabling an open systematic view of the earth’s oceans, and pioneering a new wave of applications providing insight and access to real time data, at a price point orders of magnitude below that of traditional sources, at orders of magnitude higher cadence and accuracy.”