Military UAV developer Zhuoyi receives shy of US$35m from Series B raise

Ren explained that the firm was deeply involved in the design of tethered drones to be supplied to China's Armed Forces, including its army, navy and paramilitary police.

Zhuoyi (卓翼智能), an UAV startup headquartered in Beijing, today announced the close of a Series B round of financing valued at 250 million yuan (US$34.75 million).

The round was backed by ZGC Science City Ltd, AVIC Fund, OEIC, Kaiding Investment and Sheen Capital.

The proceeds will be spent on product R&D, market expansion and productivity expansion.

Founded in 2015, Zhuoyi is a developer of smart UAV solutions for both military and civilian use.

One of the company’s two product lines consist of tethered drone, multi-rotor copter, fixed-wing drone and co-axial drone.

As its flagship product, tethered drone is mainly adopted in areas including military industry, emergency rescue, firefighting and energy inspection.

Another of the firm’s product lines is a developer tool catering to more than 300 universities and research institutes working on smart drone flight control and simulation.

“We started out making drones for military application and possess reliable expertise in the realm of military industry,” said Ren Xuefeng, founder and CEO of Zhuoyi.

Ren explained that the firm was deeply involved in the design of tethered drones to be supplied to China’s Armed Forces, including its army, navy and paramilitary police.

Later, the firm branched out into civilian scenarios, he added.

“We boast all the military qualifications in the manufacturing of UAVs per se and accessories. This is rare among private businesses,” Ren noted.

Longer flight endurance

Traditional battery-powered drones can remain airborne for an average of 30 minutes.

In scenarios where extended flight endurance is required, such as high-altitude surveillance, telecom relay service and firefighting, tethered drone can step up to the plate.

It has constant access to electricity through a cable connected to a power source on the ground and thus can remain airborne for longer hours.

Specifically, Zhuoyi said its tethered drone can stand still in mid-air for up to 24 hours.

Laden with mounts such as optical pod, satellite telecom base station and reconnaissance radar, the aircraft is capable of multiple functions, ranging from aerial monitoring and electronic reconnaissance to telecom relay services.

The drone, which can be launched from a vehicle-mounted hangar, has a maximum payload of 75kg. The company plans to unveil an upgraded version with a 120kg payload this year.

It has also completed verification tests on a proof-of-concept featuring a payload of 150kg and a lift of 200m.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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