Sabrewing Aircraft Company, Inc., a startup that designs unmanned Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) Group 5 regional cargo carrier drone, has announced a significant investment by the Drone Fund, Idaten Ventures and several other investors.
The funding will contribute to completing the full-sized pre-production prototype of their Rhaegal air vehicle and for beginning preliminary flight testing in anticipation of a Series A round in the 3rd quarter of 2019. The Drone Fund and Idaten Ventures also financed the company’s angel funding in January 2018.
Based in Camarillo, California, USA, Sabrewing Aircraft Company is a manufacturer of unmanned heavy-lift commercial cargo air vehicles-new generation of heavy-lift air vehicles that can lift 2 metric tons of cargo, take off and land vertically in austere locations, in any weather, up to 1500 nautical miles away. Its “Dragonworks” Lab is located in the Silicon Valley.
Sabrewing’s “Rhaegal” air vehicle is a gas-electric hybrid that can take off and land vertically – in mud, snow, ice, deep sand or unimproved landing areas – at speeds of up to 200 knots (370 km/hr), and in tumultuous weather. The Rhaegal can be remotely piloted and become fully autonomous for military applications too. It can deliver an 800-pound (366 kg) payload flying at altitudes of up to 22,000 feet (6,700 m) and a range of up to 360 nautical miles (670 km).
Rhaegal’s other features include:
- foldable wings for easy ground handling and for landing in tight spaces,
- Its “folding” nose (a la C-5 “Galaxy” aircraft) requires no special equipment for loading or unloading cargo in remote locations.
- a first-of-its-kind five-sensor Detect and Avoid (D&A) system to autonomously navigate a path around conflicting obstacles and other air traffic
These features are common to both of Sabrewing’s designs – the 800-pound payload Rhaegal and the 4,400-pound payload “Wyvern” aircraft too. The D&A system is a collaborative effort between The University of California, Channel Islands; Oklahoma University; Garmin; FLIR; uAvionix; Iris Automation; Attollo Engineering, and Sabrewing.
FAA certification of the Rhaegal is planned for 2023, followed shortly thereafter by certification of the Wyvern. Sabrewing has received test range permission to begin flight test in Alaska as early as the 4th quarter, 2019.
Rhaegal is best suited for missions like disaster/emergency response, forward-operating-position resupply and even casualty evacuation. Its commercial missions could include cargo delivery to locations inaccessible by airports, roads or sea ports. The Wyvern has the capability of carrying loads such as well casing, palletized loads, bulk cargo, fuel and can even provide service as a forest service water tanker.
The Drone Fund was started by Japanese investors with $9M to encourage drone startups establish a drone ecosystem in Japan and the United States by providing angel investment in the UAV/drone space.
“The shortage of pilots is a serious problem globally. Japan has shortage of truck drivers for delivering as well. Sabrewing’s product as such is a semi-autonomous, remotely-piloted large cargo drone that will solve these critical issues, and the company has the potential to form a new transportation network using large drones.” stated Kotaro Chiba who is the general partner, Chief Dronist and Co-Founder of the Drone Fund.
Drone Fund, Idaten Ventures and other investors felt encouraged to fund the additional investment to complete the pre-production prototype after observing Sabrewing’s rapid development of their engineering and the completion and testing of their scale model. Till now Sabrewing has produced a 1/8 scale model of their first aircraft, following a thorough 3rd-party Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) of their internal engineering and analyses – and is actively testing hover, transition and other flight characteristics.
Sabrewing has opened offices in Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan thanks to continued interest from the Drone Fund and Japanese investors, “Our partnerships with investors continue to grow in Tokyo and we are excited to open our office and have a presence in Tokyo so that we can continue to grow and expand our relationship with investors,” said Ed De Reyes, CEO of Sabrewing Aircraft Company.