Australia is set to benefit from advances in remote drone technology due to an investment by Telstra Ventures into Cape, an ‘aerial telepresence’ company.
Founded in 2014, Cape is already present in US, Canadian and New Zealand markets, and has supported more than 100,000 flights around the world using its proprietary software.
Cape’s cloud platform lets untrained users control consumer, professional, and enterprise-level UAVs via their laptops over unlimited distances.
Cape had “identified Australia as a country that would benefit from the use of drones across a number of industrial and government verticals,” Cape CEO Chris Rittler told Telstra Exchange.
Now, with a successful Series A round of investment from Telstra Ventures, Google’s Gradient Ventures, Mitsui & Co. and NEA, Cape will invest in R&D and market expansion to bring every day users with zero pilot training, the ability to log into Cape’s online cloud platform via their laptops, connect to drones located 1,000s of miles away, and fly them safely with ultra low latency controls and high resolution video.
Matthew Koertge, MD Telstra Ventures, is excited about the possibilities Cape will bring to Australia. “Cape’s drone remote control and AI platform is an important emerging technology with diverse applications and benefits across industries.”
Market adoption is happening because enterprise customers can use Cape software today. We are excited to bring Cape to Australia so that Telstra customers can benefit from these advancements.”
Australia has a great deal of potential for expansion of drone tech markets, something that has also been recognised by another mobile phone provider, Nokia, who are developing a drone framework to put to use in precision agricultural.
Rittler says Cape had been exploring potential opportunities including leveraging existing infrasctructure, saying, “Telstra Ventures has closely followed developments in drone technology based on feedback from customers regarding their desire to use drones, as well as our own drones program – including using drone technology to inspect some of Telstra’s many cell towers and structures.”
Telstra called for a relaxation of line-of-sight laws, that requires pilots to fly UAVs as far as they can see them, at a Senate enquiry in January – with the condition of keeping appropriate safeguards.
“In our line of work, BVLOS would allow us to more efficiently assess damage to mobile network towers and other infrastructure during disaster situations when the infrastructure is not accessible by vehicle,” Tesltra said in its submission.
Such a relaxation could pave the way for drone tech innovation in Australia, they believe.
Cape also participated at the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems trade show which was held in Australia’s capital, Canberra, on 13 and 14 March”, known as RPAS in Australian Skies 2018.
The event was sponsored by Telstra Labs along with other corporations such as Northropp Grumman who have an interest in the safe integration of drones into Australian airspace.
Telstra and Cape say they “support AAUS’s objective to promote a professional, safe and commercially viable unmanned systems industry”.