A California startup is launching its latest drone model with a boost of funding from VC firms.
Along with Idaten Ventures and other firms, Japanese VC Drone Fund is investing more than $1.8 million in Camarillo-based Sabrewing Aircraft Company – a manufacturer of vertical-take-off-and-landing cargo drones. The Drone Fund and Idaten Ventures financed the company’s angel funding last year, as well.
Sabrewing officials say the company will use the funding to develop its Rhaegal drone – a gas-electric hybrid, remotely operated, semi-autonomous, regional cargo UAV. The model can carry an 800-pound payload over 360 nautical miles at an altitude of 22,000 feet at a cruise speed of about 180 knots. The model will begin preliminary flight testing in anticipation of a Series A round in the third quarter of this year.
“The shortage of pilots is a serious problem globally. Japan has a shortage of truck drivers for delivering as well,” Drone Fund co-founder Kotaro Chiba said. “Sabrewing’s product as such is a semi-autonomous, remotely-piloted large cargo drone that will solve these critical issues, and the company has the potential to form a new transportation network using large drones.”
“To date, Sabrewing has produced a 1/8 scale model of their first aircraft, following a thorough 3rd-party Independent Verification and Validation of their internal engineering and analyses – and is actively testing hover, transition and other flight characteristics. It was Sabrewing’s rapid development of their engineering and the completion and testing of their scale model that prompted Drone Fund, Idaten Ventures and other investors to fund the additional investment to complete the pre-production prototype. Sabrewing expects to close this final round by February with an additional $1 million in funding.”
The Rhaegal drone can be used for missions such as disaster/emergency response, forward-operating-position resupply and casualty evacuation, while commercial missions include cargo delivery to locations not served by airports, roads or sea ports.
Investments in VTOL drones has been on the rise over the past few years. Last year, the U.S. Interior Department awarded a federal contract to New Hampshire-based Birdseyeview Aerobotics to provide 50 VTOL fixed-wing drones to monitor millions of acres of public land and administers several monuments.
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