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Philly drone startup raises $16 million, with CIA’s venture capital arm pitching in

Co-founded by Penn dean of engineering Vijay Kumar, the Philadelphia startup deploys its autonomous aerial robots to automate mapping in mines and caves.

Exyn's autonomous aerial drone.
Exyn's autonomous aerial drone.Read moreexyn (custom credit)

Exyn Technologies, the Philadelphia robotics pioneers, announced Friday that the company has raised $16 million to expand operations.

The privately-held tech firm founded by Vijay Kumar, the Dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Engineering school, has long been on the forefront of aerial drone development.

Centricus, a U.K.-based investment firm linked with the SoftBank Vision Fund, led the Series A funding round. Others participating included Yamaha Motors Ventures, the CIA-partner In-Q-Tel, and Penn alumni funded Red & Blue Ventures.

Exyn has previously partnered with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop novel robotic systems to explore underground tunnels, which includes mines, natural caves, and other previously unmappable terrain.

The company announced in February that it was making its Advanced Autonomous Aerial Robot (“A3R”), the first fully-autonomous aerial system for data collection, available for commercial use. The drone uses proprietary software (exynAI), cameras and Velodyne LiDAR (pulsed laser light) to navigate by itself and scan subterranean environments.