Boundary.AI (边界智控), a startup making flight control systems for eVTOL aircraft, has raised tens of million of yuan from a pre-Series A round of funding, Chinese media reported today.
This round was led by Puhua Capital, with participation from ASB Ventures and Shenzhen Credit Guarantee Group. Existing shareholder Sequoia Capital also poured in money.
Proceeds from this round will be used to accelerate the R&D of Boundary.AI’s product and technology, land a certificate of airworthiness, and advance commercialization efforts.
Founded in 2020 in the southern Chinese tech hub Shenzhen, Boundary.AI is one of the first domestic startups to develop flight control, navigation and autonomous piloting systems for producers of industrial UAV, including eVTOL aircraft.
Within two years of its inception, Boundary.AI has completed the work on developing and productizing airworthy off-the-shelf flight control system.
According to the startup, an OEM equipped its eVTOL aircraft with Boundary.AI’s R3 triple redundant flight control system. The aerial vehicle, with a takeoff weight of more than 2 tons, has completed its maiden flight.
Installations on other types of aircraft from other clients are also underway.
With a focus on flight sensing, navigation, decision-making and self-piloting, the company has continued to extend its product line beyond flight control and in-flight navigation modules to cover simulation and visual systems developed in conjunction with partners.
“It’s hard to scale up from zero,” said Weng Haimin, founder and CEO of Boundary.AI. “The challenge comes from two aspects, technology and safety.”
He said flight control for eVTOL industry is more complicated but has similarly stringent requirements on safety.
Compounding the difficulty is the fact that civilian aircraft builders used to source the flight control system primarily from overseas suppliers.
With China’s eVTOL industry chain still in its infancy, many OEMs don’t understand innovative eVTOL types well enough, are still in the process of capacity-building, and lack resources, said Weng.
Boundary.AI tried to tackle these issues by recruiting more talent with a background in civil aviation, automobile, industrial controller, UAV and internet, to enhance its capabilities comprising both software and hardware.
It also teamed up with OEMs and industrial chain players such as Aviage Systems, Accel, and SoC China to “empower each other.”
The focus for Boundary.AI in the next phase of development is to acquire a certificate of airworthiness, Weng said, adding this will be a key step for eVTOL industry practitioners to expand from limited use cases to wider, general-purpose applications.
The CEO also revealed that starting this year, the firm will start to generate revenue from product sales.
Aside from extending the product line, Boundary.AI plans to build up its capacity in key products and systems, explore more aircraft types and venture into more scenarios, including the electrification of traditional, general-purpose airplanes and logistics drones.
For another thing, the startup sets sights on developing self-piloting technologies based on sensing, navigation, planning and decision-making.
“As aircraft become electric and intelligent, demand for flight control, a core technique, has become greater,” said Wu Xiaofeng, a partner at Puhua Capital. “Boundary.AI’s team is a rare breed in this segment, with both a solid technical foundation, an innovative mindset and an international perspective.”
He added that the startup has won recognition from OEMs and other types of partners on the back of its products and technologies. “I believe Boundary.AI will evolve into a leader in this (eVTOL) space,” Wu explained.