The Australian drone logistics service provider Swoop Aero has landed a new investment round for its first and last mile airborne delivery network, bringing its total backing to $26 million to date, the firm said.
Port Melbourne, Victoria-based Swoop Aero plans to use the funds to enter new markets, scale its integrated logistics networks, and expand its Australian manufacturing capabilities. That track will also include expanding its “impact-driven” operations in Africa to commercial operations across Southeast Asia, Europe, and the U.S., the firm said.
The new money came from a “series B” round from Levitate Capital, an American venture capital firm that has also invested in a number of other drone delivery startups, such as Joby, Skydio, and Matternet. Additional funding in that round came from Main Sequence, Giant Leap, Artesian, Folklore Ventures, and the U.S. government-funded investment arm In-Q-Tel.
Founded in 2017, Swoop Aero has focused its flights so far on rural routes and emergency operations, such as delivering medications and blood supplies, flying cameras over flood zones, and assisting in search and rescue operations, according to Eric Peck, CEO of Swoop Aero and a former Australian air force pilot.
In a typical deployment for those goals, Swoop Aero will deploy from 12 to 40 planes and provide end-to-end supply chain services in what it calls an “integrated drone logistics network.” It has provided that model for continuing operations in countries like Malawi, Namibia, and Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. In all, Swoop Aero says it has completed over 20,000 flights and delivered more than 1.2 million items.
But with its new backing, it plans to expand into a much broader range of supply chain services. “We now provide search and rescue, surveying, mapping, and medications. We will ultimately provide e-commerce deliveries and general transportation. That will happen as we expand from low-income countries and shift into middle-, then high-income. There is a level where people are willing to pay for items to be delivered very fast, for just-in-time delivery,” Peck said.
To reach that goal, Swoop Aero will continue to scale up its networks and manufacturing, and will work with regulatory groups such as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to gain certification for safe flight over increasingly populated regions, he said.
Swoop Aero has successfully moved 1 million items by drone!— Swoop Aero (@Swoop_aero) August 16, 2022
This monumental milestone comes as we continue to scale our integrated drone logistics networks across 4 continents and build society’s newest layer of infrastructure. #dronedelivery #dronesforgood #RPAS #impact pic.twitter.com/jJEnYqpSF4