A startup that builds rig-inspecting drones has just raised $5.7 million from a helicopter company and a London investor

London startup Sky-Futures announced today that it has raised an additional $5.7 million (£3.9 million) for its oil and gas rig inspection drone inspection services, bringing total investment in the company to over $10 million (£6.9 million).

The company, coheadquartered between London and Houston, received $4.2 million (£2.9 million) from Bristow Group, a company that provides helicopters to the energy industry, and an additional $1.5 million (£1 million) from previous investor MMC Ventures, a venture capital firm in London’s High Street Kensington neighbourhood.

Sky-Futures’ drones collect HD video, stills and thermal imagery data. The company then uses its software to analyse the data and predict rig erosion (something rig operators need to keep a close eye on) as well as any other potential issues. A team of rig analysis engineers deliver the findings to the client in a written report.

The drones are currently in use on rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, North Sea, the Middle East, South East Asia, and North Africa by 35 of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, including BP, Shell, and Statoil.

Sky-Futures said the money would help it to accelerate the development of its technology inspection platform.

Skyfutures Bloomberg Business Innovators Co foundersSky-FuturesSky-Futures founders: Chris Blackford, James Harrison, and Nick Rogers.

Cofounder and CEO James Harrison, said the partnership between Bristow and Sky-Futures will enable the company to “expand the operational delivery of drone-based inspection services in the global oil and gas market.”

He added: “We’re working on automating the entire analysis process using algorithms to provide a high degree of confidence to engineers. This will enable more efficient operations, planning and maintenance of the infrastructure.”

Simon Menashy, investment director at MMC Ventures, said: “We backed Sky-Futures early on, not just as a leading commercial drone business, but as a much larger opportunity to use data to change the way the oil and gas industry thinks about its infrastructure — and we’ve worked closely with the founders over the past year to build out the global team and technology platform.”

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