Arcgine (安擎科技), a company providing autonomous flight control technologies for UAV, has bagged tens of millions of yuan in an angel round of funding, backed by Yuanhe Capital and Gree Capital, Chinese tech media outlet 36kr reported.
Proceeds from this round will be used to develop and commercialize the firm’s proprietary beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) system for drones.
BVLOS technologies prove increasingly important for drone manufacturers as their aerial vehicles often cross virtual geographic boundaries into sections of airspace left uncovered by wireless telecom or remote sensing signals.
That’s where BVLOS systems come in. Arcgine’s self-built hardware and software, once installed on drones, allow drones to navigate the air on their own and without colliding into flying objects once they stray off course.
Industry research suggests that global UAV market has entered a period of fast expansion, with the market size hitting 160 billion yuan (US$21.9 billion) in 2021, up 61% year on year.
Photo courtesy of Arcgine
‘Eyes’ that see in the dark
Drones are now deployed to a wide spectrum of scenarios, such as agriculture, electricity patrol, meteorological survey, maritime inspection, remote sensing-powered mapping, logistics and emergency rescue.
Despite the enormous potential of this market, it is occasionally held back by obstacles, one of which is the drone’s maneuverability beyond the distance it is allowed to fly from the remote controller.
“BVLOS capabilities that ensure airspace safety are the centerpiece of any scale-up in drone-led services,” said Liu Ying, founder and CEO of Arcgine. “Currently, over 90% of drones need to be equipped with BVLOS systems to become operable.”
Observers explain that this technology is comparable to “eyes” allowing drones to see in the dark.
According to Liu, this problem cannot be easily solved by retrofitting traditional remote controlled drones, since this would push up operational costs, elevate safety risks and make it impossible to realize multi-drone coordination.
Take firefighting for example. A conventional drone requires an operator on site to plan and control its flight path.
According to standard operational protocol, each fire station in China that adopts drones must have at least a third of its staff as backup drone operators.
Costly drone application
Another factor that makes drone adoption costly is that the number of maintenance personnel must be kept in proportion to the number of drones at their disposal.
Photo courtesy of Arcgine
During a frontline operation where various drones are assigned for different tasks, they are prone to signal jamming, resulting in information blocking and making drones difficulty to use.
In response, Arcgine came up with a suite of disruptive innovations with so-called detection and avoidance (DAA) at the core.
The firm’s unique spherical perceptive technology enables drones to avoid a variety of cooperative and non-cooperative objects in the air.
Removing the barrier to adoptio
The entire detection and avoidance procedure is independent of human intervention. Instead, humans can monitor the drone’s real-time status on a cloud platform and choose to step in and take over where need be.
This helps cut labor cost and enhance efficiency, alleviating the pain points confronting many industries that are heavy drone users.
Arcgine has rapidly monetized its BVLOS technology since the company’s inception in 2022, supplying its hardware and software products to multiple projects undertaken by a fire and rescue brigade in central China’s Wuhan.