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Skygauge’s innovative tilting rotor drones are up for pre-order, with deliveries in 2021 – TechCrunch

I have had a few occasions to see Skygauge’s drones in-person, primarily on visits to Asia. The Canadian team is involved in HAX’s program and has spent time working out of their Shenzhen offices. In fact, they competed at our last hardware battlefield in the city late last year.

To a person, everyone I’ve spoken with seems impressed by the company’s tiltable rotor technology, which allows the massive industrial drones to maneuver in ways more traditional quadcopters can’t. I have little doubt the startup has had no trouble getting the attention of companies looking for an edge in the drone space, and like so many other robotics and robotics/drone/automation companies, it’s gotten a pretty significant boost in interest due to COVID-19.

Today the startup announced that it has opened pre-orders on its drones, with plans to launch in 2021 — it’s not disclosing pricing, but interested parties can plunk down a refundable $1,000 deposit. The company has already lined up “100 potential customers,” along with planned demos for 10 Fortune 500 companies. The pandemic, meanwhile, has opened up increased potential for these sorts of automated industrial inspection devices. The company notes a recent temporary FAA exemption for additional drone-based inspections of oil and gas sites in Texas, as workers are expected to stay home.

“Our goal is to get people out of dangerous environments and the need for this has never been greater because of COVID-19,” co-founder and CEO Nikita Iliushkin says in a statement.

Skygauge apparently maxed out its early adopter program during the pandemic. I’ll be curious to see if the company’s success ultimately lies in producing its own drones or licensing its impressive technology to third-parties. Meantime, it has raised $400,000 in pre-seed funding, with plans to raise more.