CarbonicBoats Pty. Ltd. (Carbonix), a designer, manufacturer and operator of unmanned aerial data capture solutions based in Sydney, Australia, has raised A$6.3 million in late seed funding. The round, which was oversubscribed, includes listed Defence aerospace manufacturer Quickstep Holdings who invested $1 million – adding a strategic dimension to the mix of individuals and small funds taking up the opportunity.
Carbonix uses technology and expertise originating from sailing’s America’s Cup competition to develop Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones) with unmatched capabilities. Combining lightweight composite airframes with proprietary avionics, the Carbonix UAVs are able to deliver high quality aerial images and scans in real-time at attractive costs.
Practical Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) capabilities and flight endurance of up to 10 hours make their systems easy to deploy and able to cover large areas whilst carrying high-resolution sensors. Carbonix has already completed over 1,500 hours of flight testing. This puts it in the lead when it comes to the race to capture the unmanned VTOL surveying and surveillance market.
The funding enables Carbonix to scale both its production and service offerings. The company plans to expand its Drone-as-a-Service (DaaS) concept into North America after consolidating presence in the Australian market.
Carbonix CEO Stephen Pearce noted: “DaaS is a unique delivery model aimed at removing pain points associated with adopting aerial data solutions. We offer a bundled package on a subscription basis that includes the UAV system and payload, training, maintenance and upgrades, compliance, even insurance, thus providing a turnkey solution for our clients. This is possible because Carbonix has years of experience building and operating UAV systems in-house.”
Quickstep CEO Mark Burgess added: “We see participation in this round as a way for Quickstep to gain exposure to the rapidly growing unmanned aerospace services market. Quickstep contributes to the partnership a proven capability that will help Carbonix scale manufacturing, right here in Australia.”
The proven capability of Carbonix UAVs was recognised in the recent award of a significant contract by AusGrid who, following an international competitive tender process, purchased a Carbonix Domani UAV and associated services for long-range powerline inspections. Ausgrid Director of Transformation Steve Lewis said: “Carbonix drones will be used as the centrepiece of Ausgrid’s ambitious plans to complement and replace tasks traditionally completed with manned aircraft to improve service and reduce customer disruption and cost to serve. They can give us comparable data to a helicopter, but with less disruption on the ground, lower cost, and a significantly smaller carbon footprint. Ausgrid is proud to be leading the industry in the adoption of smart new technologies.”
AusGrid follows a cohort of high-profile early adopters of Carbonix UAVs and services across four continents including Hitachi, Harvard University and Fujitsu. Carbonix Founder and CTO Dario Valenza added: “My vision for Carbonix is to solve real-world problems with elegant technology. Closing this round will enable us to deliver commercially on the results of a dedicated development journey. I’m very happy that we could keep the business Australian owned.”