Red Cat snares Skypersonic’s drone technology


Dive Brief:

  • Skypersonic, which was seeded through an incubator program at Wayne State University in Detroit and provides drones that can be piloted from thousands of miles away, has been acquired by Puerto Rico-based software provider Red Cat Holdings, according to a news release. Terms were not disclosed.
  • Skypersonic’s Skycopter is a miniature drone designed to monitor hard-to-reach locations including critical infrastructure components, sewer mains and enclosed shafts. The unit flies inside a lightweight spherical cage, which avoids damage to inspected areas while protecting the unit. Combined with the firm’s Skyloc software system, it can complete inspections where GPS is not available and record and transmit inspection data while being operated from thousands of miles away. 
  • “Skypersonic invented the first worldwide, real-time remote piloting system — a unique technology conceived and created in Detroit,” said Giuseppe Santangelo, the company’s founder and CEO, in a statement. “The ability to control the flight of a drone from thousands of miles away will revolutionize the civilian drone business market, allowing remote business services such industrial inspections or law enforcement surveillance.”

Dive Insight:

Skypersonic’s technology has proven useful for inspections of automotive plants as well as tunnels, boilers, sewers and other areas of limited accessibility. It’s also being put to use by the energy industry in the U.S., Brazil, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, according to Santangelo. The firm’s customers include General Motors and Aramco.

The drones — which only weigh a few pounds — can test for gas levels, temperature, radiation and other important safety metrics. Videos are captured in HD format, and an LED system allows users to see in the dark.

Santangelo was a part-time faculty member at Wayne State’s College of Engineering, teaching courses in autonomous vehicles and drone technology, when he started Skypersonic in 2014.

Soon after, he began working with the James and Patricia Anderson Engineering Ventures Institute at Wayne State, the college’s entrepreneurial incubator. The program connected Santangelo with potential investors and provided guidance to turn Skypersonic into a viable company.

The institute also invested a total of $350,000 over the last three years, making it the second-largest investor in the company, according to the university.

The inspection and survey market is a $21 billion industry, according to Red Cat Holdings, where drones can complete dangerous tasks more efficiently, quicker and at a lower cost than human inspectors.  

“A Skycopter equipped with Skyloc software can complete inspections in locations that are confined, hard to reach and inefficient to complete manually,” said Jeffrey Thompson, CEO of Red Cat, in the statement.


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