Australian satellite startup Fleet Space Technologies has raised a $7.35 million round of funding to help launch its next generation of nanosatellites, extremely small satellites it employs to deliver Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity to customers globally.
Fleet’s satellites are roughly the size of shoe boxes, which are much cheaper and easier to launch than traditional geocommnications satellites, and the company intends to use a globe-spanning constellation of these in order to serve needs like tracking construction equipment assets, monitoring pipelines and other utility infrastructure and more.
Already, Fleet has launched four of its nanosatellites to orbit on a number of different rockets, including an Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) rocket, a Rocket Lab launch and via SpaceX. Its existing fleet is only a very small part of its planned constellation, but already the startup says it has witnessed “unprecedented demand” from more than three million compatible devices registered to join their network.
Connected IoT in industrial applications is a huge potential market, and could be made up of more than 14 billion low-power devices by 2025, Fleet Space says, based on IDC estimates. That’s a lot of hardware that needs to be able to effectively connect to, and communicate with, central hubs. Edge computing is a huge trend right now, where a lot of these previously fairly rudimentary on-device sensors and monitors are able to do more processing on-site, but at some point the value of a network of IoT devices is that the resulting data can be collected, analyzed, turned into product improvements and redeployed.
Fleet’s tech is the connective tissue that can bind all these devices in a way that’s much more scalable and affordable for commercial and industrial clients large and small. Satellite-based network coverage works in tandem with ground-based networks, which helps ensure there aren’t any blind spots in industries where communication can be hard to come by, like agriculture, forestry and mining.
This round of funding includes investment from Momenta Ventures and Horizon Ventures, and adds to the previous $5 million AUD ($3.4 million USD) that Fleet raised previously from Blackbird Ventures and Grok Ventures, with contribution from the South Australian government.