With $30M in Tank, UAV Maker 3D Robotics Gets Ready for Take-Off

10/3/13Follow @bvbigelow

After raising $30 million in a Series B round of venture funding announced last week, 3D Robotics is ready to really get its drone business off the ground.

The four-year-old startup, based in San Diego (headquarters and engineering), Berkeley, CA, (business and sales), and Tijuana (manufacturing), designs and manufactures aircraft that use open source software for autonomous flight. After moving into a new manufacturing facility in Tijuana, CEO Chris Anderson says 3D Robotics is entering a new era of commercialization for a company that was previously focused on hobbyists.

The Boulder, CO-based Foundry Group (a new investor) co-led the round with existing investor True Ventures. Foundry partner Jason Mendelson is joining 3D Robotics’ board of directors. Existing investors O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and SK Ventures also joined in the new round, which brings the company’s total venture funding to $36 million, according to Anderson.

“We think that robots have already taken over the world,” Foundry’s Mendelson wrote in a recent e-mail. The venture firm also has invested in two Boulder-based robotics startups that are more focused on having fun than doing work: Orbotix, which has developed a robotic ball that can be controlled by Android or iOS-based smartphones and tablets; and Modular Robotics, a spinout from Carnegie Mellon University that makes modular robotic construction blocks for kids.

3D Robotics Y6 multicopter (Credit: 3D Robotics)

3D Robotics Y6 multicopter (Credit: 3D Robotics)

3D Robotics, on the other hand, has been shifting its focus to developing new commercial markets for working robots. “We’ve been studying the UAV [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles] market for a while and we feel that 3DR is the unquestioned leader in the UAV space and that UAVs are ready to do real work,” Mendelson says. “The technology and community they’ve created is incredibly impressive.”

And “Yes,” Mendelson adds, “I’ll be coming to San Diego more. Looking forward to it!”

When Chris Anderson resigned last November as the editor of Wired magazine to take the helm at 3D Robotics, the company was focused mostly on serving a community of DIY enthusiasts that has grown to … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • Marcus UAV

    3D Robotics is doing a fine job moving forward UAV Technology as a whole and bringing the features necessary to make most commercial tasks possible.