Zeitview, formerly known as DroneBase, today announced that it has raised $55 million to further develop its aerial and ground data collection technology. Led by Valor Equity Partners and featuring Union Square Ventures, Upfront Ventures, Euclidean Capital, Energy Transition Ventures, and Hearst Ventures, the tranche to increase Zeitview’s military budget to $114 million focuses on product expansion, customer acquisition, and ongoing recruitment efforts will place CEO Dan Burton told TechCrunch.
About the Company and Burton
Zeitview was founded in 2014 to provide businesses with a new resource: the sky. Passionate about drones and other advanced technologies, Burton said he saw an opportunity to use onboard robotics and sensors to collect data on how assets like solar panels and turbines are changing over time.
After serving in the military, Burton worked briefly at Goldman Sachs before leaping in 2014 with the launch of Zeitview. He claims to have personally led the company’s first 100 or so drone missions.
“We were convinced that robotics could provide advanced inspections that were safer, faster, more accurate, and cheaper than older analog inspections,” Burton said via email.
“For global energy and infrastructure customers, Zeitview provides advanced monitoring software that improves asset performance and lifespan while lowering operating costs.”
Zeitview’s solutions might not be cheaper than manual inspections, depending on just how involved the inspections in question are. But it’s fair to say that it’s more technologically sophisticated.
Using drones, Zeitview captures data — including images and thermal readings — on infrastructure like wind turbines and solar panels and runs that data through AI algorithms. The algorithms screen for anomalies such as damaged turbine blades and classify them as damages, alerting the customers to issues as they crop up.
Zeitview deals not only with asset owners but with investors, utility companies, and policymakers, to whom it sells inspection imagery and machine learning-powered insights.
For example, Zeitview scans large solar farms and rates them on a scale of 1 to 3. Each letter here represents one aspect of the facility’s condition. Ratings are aggregated with premium reporting services.
Since its inception, Zeitview claims to have used drones to capture thermal data from wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean, post-hurricane real estate complexes in Texas, and “community-scale” solar farms.
“We have experience with asset classes and support any way clients want to collect data – they identify themselves as a software or hybrid model with a worldwide service across our network,” said Burton. “We are focused on reducing our customers’ operating and maintenance costs while providing safer, faster and more accurate responses.”
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Investments and Competition
For now, drones may no longer be a buzzword, but investors continue to pour capital into specialized businesses that use drones, such as those with an analytics component.
According to one source, venture capital investments in drone companies reached $7 billion through 199 deals in 2021, up from $2.4 billion in 2022. Other competitors include Prenav, PrecisionHawk, Skyspecs, and Raptor Maps, where the company is developing a drone-based system that can remotely inspect infrastructure such as buildings and cell towers, and Saildrone, which operates a fleet of maritime drones that collect data from the sea.
With about 200 employees, Zeitview says its customer base includes “many of the major renewable energy OEMs, as well as major asset owners and O&M service providers for wind and solar assets,” as well as insurance and roofing. and wealth management companies. “As a startup providing advanced control, we accelerated during the pandemic with a robot-based solution that leveraged local operators and global software,” Burton added.
It should be noted that Zeitview benefits from the broader aerial photography sector. Global Market Insights predicts that it will reach $25 billion by 2032 thanks to technological advances and innovation. Aerial photography plays a “critical” and very timely role in documenting the impacts of climate change, protecting resources, and optimistically reducing emissions, the report points out.
“Increase in natural disasters such as floods, tropical cyclones, storm surges, and wildfires will increase the value and demand for advanced aerial imaging solutions for assessing the damage caused by such events,” said the authors of Global Market Insights.
These thoughts are similar to those of Neil Dyckman of Energy Transition Ventures.
Burton said via email: he said: “Their commitment to reducing inspection costs for customers worldwide has made them a leader in the energy conversion market.”
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Zeitview inspection professionals use manned aircraft and smartphone technology to create relevant and flexible solutions for clients. Its companion software platform with deep insights and analytics enables clients to easily view data results anywhere.
As Zeitview, the company will continue to create advanced inspection software that provides fast and accurate information, lowers costs for asset owners, and improves performance and longevity. The name change comes with the company’s increasingly diverse data collection tools: in addition to rotary-wing drones, Zeitview inspection professionals use manned aircraft and smartphone technology to create relevant, flexible solutions for clients. Its companion software platform with deep insights and analytics enables clients to easily view data results anywhere.
“We appreciate how important time is to our customers: on the one hand, they need an immediate and accurate analysis of the state of their assets; on the other hand, they build energy resources and infrastructure to last decades,” said Dan Burton, founder, and CEO of Zeitview.
“We are confident that our AI-enabled software solutions can provide an immediate response and provide our customers with a long-term home, while increasingly agnostic about what tool we use to capture the most accurate data. We are grateful that Valor recognizes the power of our end-to-end services to support customers in building, protecting, and maintaining infrastructure across different asset classes and around the world. They understand transformational energy and infrastructure software and embrace businesses that use technology to solve operationally complex problems.”
Valor’s partnership enables Zeitview to continue to transform the air inspection industry with new technologies and exclusive AI software. Valor’s real-world experience with companies running complex software validates Zeitview’s commitment to improving data collection through automation.
“Valor has been a leader in data science and analytics to improve business for many years,” said Vivek Pattipati, partner at Valor Equity Partners. “With the continued expansion of Zeitview services and the promise of providing accurate real-time analyzes with our advanced inspection software, we are a natural fit for our mission. We look forward to supporting Zeitview as it begins this rebranding and transitions to the next phase Aerial Imaging and Data Solutions.”