F-drones, a Singapore-based developer of large-scale autonomous drones for maritime logistics, has raised an undisclosed amount in seed investment, led by ship management company Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS).
The round also saw participation from Germany-based ship management firm Schulte Group (which invested through its venture arm Innoport), besides SEEDS Capital, Entrepreneur First, Orient Ventures, Superangel (Estonian early-stage investor), and a few unnamed Singaporean angels.
The funding will enable F-drones to form more technology and commercial partnerships and hire global talent in aircraft design, avionics, autonomy, and computer vision, it said in a statement.
F-drones was started in 2019 by Yeshwanth Reddy and Nicholas Ang with a mission to provide 24×7 commercial Beyond-Vision-Line-Of-Sight (BVLOS) drone deliveries to ships.
Unlike VLOS (Visual-Line-of-Sight) flights, which are operated within the pilot’s sightline, BVLOS flights are flown beyond the visible range, giving the company’s drones an added advantage.
The startup is also developing Hyperlaunch Heavy (HLH), a fully-electric and autonomous proprietary drone, capable of delivering 100kg payloads over 100km.
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At present, F-drones is conducting test flights on Hyperlaunch, a scaled-down version of HLH, capable of delivering 5kg loads over 50km.
The startup is planning to start test flights to ships in Singapore later this year, and commence commercial drone deliveries with Hyperlaunch soon after.
“We firmly believe F-drones will reinvent the shore-to-ship delivery process by being faster, cheaper, and cleaner than any existing model in use today. F-drones also adds an urgent layer of safety for seafarers and service providers by limiting human contact for routine deliveries,” said Gil Ofer, special advisor for Innovation at Eastern Pacific Shipping.
F-drones’s development has also been supported by various government agencies, including the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).
“As a key maritime hub, we support maritime tech startups which push the envelope driving the next phase of Maritime Singapore’s industry transformation. By providing an enabling environment for solution providers to testbed within our waters, we accelerate the translation of new technologies into commercial-ready solutions. MPA is glad to be able to support tech startups such as F-drones to take their solutions to market at a faster pace,” commented Thomas Ting, CTO at MPA.
Singapore has been accelerating its efforts towards innovation in the maritime sector since the launch of the Maritime Singapore Green Pledge in 2011, after which a total of 90 companies have pledged their commitment towards promoting clean and green shipping in Singapore.
Just last week, Rainmaking, a corporate innovation and venture development firm along with VC firm SEEDS Capital, launched a US$22-million fund to jointly invest in maritime startups.
Image Credit: Dileep M
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