Drone-maker Parrot invests $7.5 million in two EPFL spin-offs

Interesting development. The company behind the Parrot AR drone is investing in Sensefly and Pix4D. What can we expect? When will our kids be making ortho's with their smartphones?

From Engadget:

Switzerland's EPFL has managed to catch our attention with its various UAV-related activities, and it looks like it's also been the radar of Parrot, maker of the AR.Drones. EPFL announced today that the French company is investing 7.4 million Swiss Francs (or about $7.5 million) in two companies that have been spun out of the institution: senseFly and Pix4D. As you may recall, those two have collaborated in the past, with senseFly providing the camera-equipped UAVs necessary for Pix4D's 3D mapping software. Broken down, the investment works out to 2.4 million Francs put into Pix4D and five million invested in senseFly, the latter of which is enough for Parrot to claim a majority stake company. As for the future, senseFly's CEO says that the deal will give Parrot "access to the expertise and the technology for specialized drones," while Pix4D's CEO says that the investment "reinforces our position as a leader in software for professional drones" and opens up new business opportunities. It also makes it clear, if it wasn't already, that Parrot is getting pretty serious about drones. You can find the official announcement after the break, along with a video from EPFL explaining the deal.

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Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on July 26, 2012 at 3:48pm

Hmmm...  I've been waiting for somebody to make a very high capability, plug and play drone for about $1000, equivalent to a $10,000 "hobby grade" setup (ie: Large Octo, brushless motors, flight controller, ground station) by way of mass production.  I wonder if they will do it.

Comment by Jeff Taylor on July 26, 2012 at 5:01pm


Comment by Cliff-E on July 26, 2012 at 6:52pm


I say we're about 2-3 yrs out. That with a vehicle that's flies reliably and tackling some of the legal/safety issues in software. Not only that law enforcement wants it (50K for a drone is just too pricey for most depts), but drone journalists, etc.. need it. IMO, it really about lowering the price of those uber pro-grade Gyros & Accelos.

Looks like Parrot wants to tackle mapping and basically telematics... they do sell lots of car radios and are currently developing a uber telematic system better stuff like GM's Cue and Ford Sync. I wonder were Google is in on all this (cause that's their territory). Or maybe they just want to go around the big player in telematic information, which is Google.

Comment by Krzysztof Bosak on July 27, 2012 at 4:33am

Parrot is a toy flying 99% of the time in a room because it cannot handle any realistic winds. SenseFly can fly 3km out if everythin is good or 20km if something goes wrong. Nobody said they are going anywhere near 1000USD for a working product. I don't say it is even imaginable given the state of the market.

Comment by Matthew Schroyer on July 27, 2012 at 5:06pm

I will second Cliff-E's comment that journalists could use a $1k mapping drone that works out of the box. As is, the bar for training and the costs associated with a commercial-built drone are too high for most media outlets. I've had people calling me wanting training and demonstrations on this stuff, so I know the demand is there. We're finding work-arounds with grants and the like, but it doesn't hardly make a dent.

But for the record, this journalist would probably make a DIY drone for funsies anyway.

Comment by Krzysztof Bosak on July 28, 2012 at 1:10am

The demand for demonstrations is completely irrelevant for for demand for sale in this business. I know this since when I was selling ready made UAVs for 1500EUR. 99% of wannabe users were the same uneducated idiots believeing I will be dancing around them for infinity selling drones for 1/8th price of military were also insisting on having diydrone prices. Now they have. And nobody is using it, because it is beyond their comprehension. The reason is people ask for low price in order to make some sort of trial and error in the business, literally they ask the maker to underbid 10 times so that they can make 10 FAILED trials entering the business with cheaper toy - because their nature is that they not learn business reality. It is waste of time to hear them.

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