Seaflight Technologies and Volant Autonomy partner to build trusted autonomy into cargo drones
The two companies will explore collaborative funding opportunities alongside technology integration trials
Swindon, UK -- July 16th, 2023 -- Seaflight Technologies, a US developer of ultra-efficient large drones for logistics, and UK-based Volant Autonomy, a leading provider of AI-enabled trusted autonomy for drones, formalized a Memorandum of Understanding in person at the Royal International Air Tattoo in the UK (RIAT 2023). The agreement sees the two companies collaborating on technology development and funding opportunities with regards to safe and effective drone flight in maritime environments at low altitudes.
Seaflight have been developing battery electric drones called Wingships. They transport air cargo between island and coastal populations by flying within approximately one wingspan of the ocean. Internationally, flying in this way is regulated by the Coast Guard and the International Maritime Organization rather than aviation authorities. It also takes advantage of aerodynamic efficiencies which extend electric range and payloads beyond those currently possible with conventional planes. Seaflight's mission is to create equitable access to low-cost, low-emission flown cargo for communities that are also among those most affected by climate change caused by fossil fuel emissions.
“Safe and proven autonomy, even with a remote pilot in the loop like we have, is needed so we can provide the most efficient and lowest-cost logistics service possible in areas where low cost matters the most” said Seaflight’s CEO and co-founder, Dr. Graham Doig. He continued, “Volant Autonomy has already demonstrated maritime operations in complex, low-altitude drone operations over the English Channel. They’ve been working on solutions for GPS-denied environments too for the defense context. When we saw that combination of existing experience and cutting-edge AI, we saw a unique partner that can dramatically accelerate our path to establishing reliable and safe operations with our wingships.”
Volant Autonomy’s approach is based on Deterministic Agile Risk Intelligence (DARI), the company’s certifiable and patent-protected core tech. It allows an unequaled level of risk visibility for the next generation of uncrewed aircraft, using any sensor, to handle any scenario, on any platform for any customer. Volant also specializes in risk aware flight planning, to reduce risk exposure by up to 95% before taking off.
Volant’s CEO, Dr. David Cleaver, said “Seaflight’s Wingship approach is extremely exciting and presents a strong business model for operations. Flying in ground effect, over the sea, it is possible to simultaneously increase efficiency and range whilst also reducing regulatory, and therefore platform, cost significantly. For this to be viable it needs an onboard autonomy that is primed for the environment, something we have been developing and flight-trialing for over 6 years”.
To learn more about Seaflight, visit https://www.seaflight.tech
To learn more about Volant Autonomy, visit https://volantautonomy.com/
About Seaflight Technologies Inc.: Seaflight is a Los Angeles-based company with subsidiaries in the UK and Australia. The company is developing the world’s most efficient battery electric drones to transport several hundred kilograms of cargo over distances that would not be possible with conventional aircraft. Seaflight was founded in 2022 by a team that collectively broke two electric international land speed records and worked on multiple commercial electric vehicle and military aviation platforms. The company has already flown several sub-scale prototype electric wingships and has backing from the US National Science Foundation to develop cutting edge aerodynamic technologies. Seaflight is backed by investors including Y Combinator, 7 Percent Ventures, Collaborative Fund, Climate Capital, Asymmetry Ventures and Gaingels, alongside angel investors including tech entrepreneurs Jude Gomila and Guillaume Luccisano, and Matt Bellamy from the band Muse.
About Volant Autonomy: Volant is a UK-based University spinout developing certifiable autonomy for flight. A vital step in integrating uncrewed aviation into the airspace system which will unlock the potential of uncrewed platforms. Volant’s technical approach is to consider decision-making across the ground and air-based infrastructure to produce a full-stack autonomy solution. Crucially the resulting Artificial Intelligence is deterministic and certifiable through current aerospace regulations. Volant has been awarded multiple UK government research grants worth over $5mn and is backed by private investors including Creator Fund, 7 Percent Ventures and several high-profile angel investors.