We continue to see avid venture investment in “NewSpace” – the surprisingly hot set of technology developers making off-planet entrepreneurship a reality. Most recently, Orbital Insight announced a $20 million investment from Google ventures (GV), CME Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Lux Capital, Bloomberg Beta, and In-Q-Tel. Additionally, Orbital Insight was named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.
As we’ve pointed out in the past, a strong part of Orbital’s appeal is its partnership roster, which includes image providers like Digital Globe, Airbus, Planet Labs – and lets it address issues from parking at major shopping centers to poverty in developing markets. Part of the new capital will be directed to improving the company’s artificial intelligence tools, specifically the neural network it uses for image analytics – and its ability to “dream” (the latest AI buzzword, thanks to Google’s DeepDream) of objects it looks for, like cars. Another effort will be adding new imagery sources, expanding from satellites to other connected devices like drones, cars, and security cameras. Given its ambitions, clients not only in precision agriculture and solar, but intelligent oilfields, smart cities, and even retail, should keep an eye on Orbital.
by Mark Bünger, Lux Research