Kiwi drone technology company Dotterel Technologies has announced it is “geared for growth” following an oversubscribed capital raising, appointment of a new director and a partnership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The capital raising, led by Sydney‐based venture capitalists and tech start‐up specialists, Jelix Ventures, raised NZD 1.06 million, and attracted investors from the US, Australia and New Zealand. The oversubscription follows a NZD 500,000 funding round last year.
Co‐founder Shaun Edlin said the new capital will be used to drive the company’s IP strategy, product and business development, and recruitment of key staff.
“We’re developing the next iteration of products to showcase to key potential clients,” Edlin said. “We are still in the early stage of commercialisation but we have several high profile commercial projects underway and we’re confident we will have some exciting news to impart to the market next year.”
According to Goldman Sachs Research, the drone market will generate USD 100 billion in revenue by 2020, driven largely by strong growth in the commercial and local government markets, although defence will remain the largest sector, accounting for USD 70 billion. The security sector, along with law enforcement, emergency services, civil defence, border and immigration control, possesses big scope for drone applications
A major barrier to the feasibility of drones in sectors like security, however, is the noise that their propellers emit, which hampers audio recordings and the use of stealth.
Dotterel has pioneered innovative noise reduction technology and clean audio recording solutions for drones. Partnering with fellow kiwi innovators Revolution Fibres to create lightweight propeller shrouds and low-noise propellers, Dotterel is first to market with its noise-reduction technology breakthrough.
They also developed light-weight microphone arrays and signal processing algorithms to filter rotor noise to allow clean recording and audio transmissions in real-time – a significant advance for security and the film and television industry.
Indeed, Dotterel’s genesis was the 2015 inaugural C-Prize competition run by Callaghan Innovation to develop innovative UAV technology for the screen industry. The company took out the runner-up award for their unique shrouding technology. This subsequently took the team to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas, where they picked up a ‘Most Innovative Product’ award.
More recently they collected Gold Awards for both their passive noise reduction technology and audio recording technology at the international technology tradeshow InnoTech ‘18, held in Taipei in September.
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Dotterel has also attracted top executive and tech start‐up mentor Ian Davis to serve on its Board as a director, along with Dr Sean Simpson, founder of biofuels giant LanzaTech, and Brett O’Riley, former ATEED chief executive. Among the new investors who participated in the capital raising are K1W1, University of Auckland’s Inventors Fund and David Weekly, a prominent US investor in drone companies.
“Having investors such as Jelix and Weekly onboard is great for Dotterel, as it raises our visibility and credibility in the important Australian and US markets,” commented Edlin. “Getting Ian Davis is also a small coup for us as it will extend our capability in terms of governance and leadership, as well as increasing our standing in the market.”
The company has also partnered with MIT, which is now funding the placement of top aerospace students at the company as interns, a development which Edlin says will deliver long‐term benefits.
“These are the top students who are turning down opportunities at Lockheed Martin to come and work with us,” he noted. “They’re getting the opportunity to assist on R&D projects where they are engaging in some of our leading‐edge, blue sky research that will eventually lead to our next iteration of products.”
“It’s an exciting time for Dotterel right now as we’re first to market with our noise reduction and safety shroud technology and we aim to enter commercial arrangements with big players in our markets in the next year,” he said.