Technology 3 min read

Insight: New SkyX Drone Could Revolutionize the Oil & Gas Industry

You may be unfamiliar with SkyX, but the drone-focused startup just announced plans to expand to Houston, Texas. Known for its large oil and gas industry, Houston should provide a hotbed of new business for the startup.

The SkyOne, SkyX's Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) UAV, seen sitting on an xStation which helps the UAV remotely charge to perform diagnostics in a more autonomous fashion. | PR Newswire

The SkyOne, SkyX's Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) UAV, seen sitting on an xStation which helps the UAV remotely charge to perform diagnostics in a more autonomous fashion. | PR Newswire

Didi Horn, a former Israeli Air Force fighter pilot, founded SkyX in 2015. Horn hoped that this venture would help private and public companies better track energy infrastructure using data analytics and drone technology.

The company received a $5-million USD funding round from Kuang-Chi Group in 2017. They then received a $9.5-million USD Series B funding round spearheaded by Almond Tree Enterprise Inc in 2018.

Combined with other investors, the startup earned around $15.8-million USD in funding. After this funding round, SkyX began its push to expand into new markets instead of just fulfilling contracts it already had.

In an effort to maintain this momentum, SkyX clarified its plans involving oil and gas corporations.

A Brief Introduction to the SkyOne Model

Drones come in handy for far more than just surveillance and future tech. As such, they are the “secret sauce” to this company’s whole infrastructure. SkyX’s main goal at its founding revolved around bringing pipeline management into the modern age.

Many sectors of the world’s ~2.5-million miles of pipelines still perform inspections by foot. As you can imagine, this comes at a great cost in terms of time and money. SkyX estimates the cost to be around $37-billion USD annually.

This startup’s drone system (known as the SkyOne) has universal appeal from a mechanical standpoint. It can be deployed from almost anywhere and doesn’t need a runway or launcher. It also has a range of around 62 miles or more on a single charge.

Due to the desire to provide an autonomous solution, the single charge battery life isn’t much of an issue. The company places automated xStations along the pipelines to provide “virtually limitless range.”

The long-range Unmanned Aerial System (UAV) model also comes with a subscription service for increased customer customization.

New Expansions Bring New Goals

Horn debuted the SkyTwo in July of 2018, boasting extended payload, range, and use-case situations. The new system also only features two motors instead of four or five.

The team describes the SkyTwo as a bridge between the helicopter and fixed aircraft worlds. Per the video:

“It takes off as a helicopter, [but] flies as a plane without using any tilt-rotor mechanisms which saves on weight and complexity.”

The expansion to Houston comes on the heels of this reveal along with support from an oil and gas industry veteran, Sean Carnahan. Carnahan, with 20 years experience in the O&G industry, will lead the Houston office team.

The pairing makes a natural fit, given the essence of O&G: pipes. The SkyX press release touched on this very point and why its UAV model is such a boon:

“Through its proprietary drone system, designed to scan pipelines spread out over hundreds of miles, SkyX is able to detect anomalies such as ground depressions and cracks, large corrosion patches on above ground pipelines, and above ground pools of oil resulting from a leak.”

This expansion also includes a new test facility in the Houston area. It serves as a place to conduct live demonstrations and as a data epicenter, as well.

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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    Anthony Crosier April 10 at 3:56 am GMT

    Wow, a new drone capability. Groundbreaking!

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