startup Aquila has closed an A$2 million follow-on funding round as it works toward  commercially releasing its Lightway Sentry optical power-beaming product. The funding round, led by Alua Group with participation from existing investors Blackbird and Icehouse, follows Aquila’s initial seed round of A$3 million last year.

Lightway Sentry is a wireless energy product that uses optical power beaming to charge a drone in the air so it can fly forever. It uses photonics – light beams sent from a transmitter on the ground to a solar cell receiver on the drone. It has game-changing potential for drone applications in search and rescue, emergency services, asset management, transport, and more.

Aquila CEO Billy Jeremijenko says the funding will accelerate Lightway Sentry’s rapid development towards commercial release, recruiting top tech talent in parallel. “We’re on track to release the world’s first optical power-beaming product into the market and recruit the best people in the world to be part of our mission,” Jeremijenko said. “We’ve met our seed funding targets, including scaling our technology and establishing a product certification pathway. We’ve demonstrated proof of concept and are now focused on making Lightway Sentry an end-to-end solution to provide 24/7 aerial situational awareness, transforming productivity and safety outcomes for many drone applications.”

Aquila’s testing partners include Quickstep and Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ), with interest from global customers, such as the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Earlier this year, Aquila proved its ability to charge drones wirelessly from a 50m distance – more than 10 times the distance previously attempted by similar technology – making it possible to power DJI and other small drones wirelessly so they can fly forever. It’s scaling towards longer ranges for larger drones to support broader safety and commercial applications.

Lightway Sentry is Aquila’s first product in a much bigger plan to scale wireless energy technology to network levels, powering the world with affordable, clean energy.


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