Israeli startup Percepto, which develops autonomous industrial drones, announced a $45 million Series B funding round. The investment was led by Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT), with participation from existing investors Spider Capital, USVP, and Arkin Holdings, alongside newcomers Summit Peak, Atento Capital, State of Mind Ventures, and Delek-US.

New market, new collaboration

Alongside the funding announcement, Percepto is also expanding its robotics reach, as well as launching a fleet management system that includes a partnership with former Google owned Boston Dynamics. The American robotics firm might sound familiar to you mostly due to ‘Spot’; developed by Boston Dynamics, the advanced robo-dog provides solutions to meet enterprises’ various industrial demands.

Percepto's main focus is its autonomous drone-in-a-box solution for industrial need, in addition to providing a comprehensive drone-fleet management system for complete control. Other than being waterproof, the drones provide 4K quality imaging, including thermal camera technologies.

"Our customers, which include some of the world's leading utility, oil & gas sites, mining and other critical infrastructure facilities, are eager to fully embrace automation across their operations and reap the benefits of driving efficiency, reducing costs and safeguarding staff. We're excited to be the first to empower our customers with truly autonomous inspection and monitoring, driven by the management of multiple visual robotic data sources together with other visual sources including piloted drones, CCTV and mobile cameras, on site or remotely," said Dor Abuhasira, CEO and Co-Founder of Percepto.

Percepto’s AIM (Autonomous Inspection and Monitoring) system integrates its own Sparrow drone with both ground and marine robots for autonomous and continuous data collection. The drones run fully autonomous, providing visual data that enables remote monitoring and inspection of critical infrastructures. The system accompanies the full process from data collection to creating an AI-powered insight report for immediate remediation.

In a conversation with Geektime, CTO Sagi Blonder explains that the company’s AIM system is first of its kind, as no other competing software can manage robots autonomously, alongside providing end-to-end infrastructure monitoring that includes data collection, analysis, and actionable insight. Blonder notes that the new system evolved from the original drone-in-a-box concept. “At the core of our robots is PerceptoCore, a module that operates as a ‘Companion Computer’ that takes over over the robot’s controls. PerceptoCore designates robot communication with our cloud system, including video analysis in real-time, navigation, and autonomous control of the robotic system.”

Percepto AIM provides visual data management and analysis to report trends and anomalies and to alert of risks. Any member of staff can request data and Percepto AIM will deploy the most suitable robot independently without human accompaniment to retrieve and stream the required data. The platform also seamlessly reports to assess risk, minimize downtime, drive efficiency and reduce operational costs without human intervention.

The client who wanted AIM to run on Spot

The collaboration with the robotics powerhouse Boston Dynamics will include implementing Percepto’s tech into Spot the robo-dog. Percepto injected the robot with a software and sensor boost, including cameras that dispatch high resolution simulations and thermal imaging. Through AIM, Spot owners can control the robo-dog remotely from anywhere in the world.

"Combining Percepto's Sparrow drone with Spot creates a unique solution for remote inspection," said Michael Perry, VP of Business Development at Boston Dynamics. "This partnership demonstrates the value of harnessing robotic collaborations and the insurmountable benefits to worker safety and cost savings that robotics can bring to industries that involve hazardous or remote work."

Where did the collaboration with Boston Dynamics come from?

Blonder: “One of our major clients requested that we connect a ground system to the visual data software running our drones. The client, which had previously worked with Boston Dynamics, asked us to “fix” Spot with our AI and sensors, so that they could collect data. Once the connection was made, it was obvious that combining technologies would result in customers receiving a product that solves real world problems, and remote manages large-scale industrial sites.”

Percepto was founded in 2014 by CEO Dor Abuhasira, CTO Sagi Blonder, CPO Raviv Raz, and CCO Ariel Avitan. The company employs 80 workers split between Israel, Australia, and the U.S. Including the current investment, Percepto has raised $72.5 million to date.