Autonomous Flight Startup Xwing Raises $4M in Seed Funding Round

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【Summary】Led by Eniac Ventures, the startup raised $4 million during the financing round.

Michael Cheng    Aug 09, 2018 6:00 AM PT
Autonomous Flight Startup Xwing Raises $4M in Seed Funding Round

At the moment, most aircrafts available today require human operators with valid licenses. In the future, in order to improve accessibility to pilotless flying cars, traditional manually-powered aircrafts must be upgraded with autonomous flight features.

For businesses interested in incorporating autonomous flying cars with their daily operations, this option more cost-effective, compared to purchasing a new fleet of pilotless units.

With focus on improving the adoption of unmanned aerial systems, San Francisco-based Xwing is on a mission to make existing planes autonomous. The startup is in the process of developing a software stack that enables such features using environmental sensing inputs, robust computing and real-time logic. Xwing recently completed a successful seed funding round, which attracted several investors to back the company.  

Seed Round

The startup raised $4 million during the financing round. Led by Eniac Ventures, other notable participants include John and Patrick Collison (founders of digital payments startup Stripe), Microsoft and GitHub. Founded in 2016, Xwing will use the newly acquired funds to streamline operations and hiring programs.

Xwing's products are designed to work with several types of aircrafts. The company is currently testing pilotless systems for helicopters and fixed-wing units. Environmental sensing is facilitated by the startup's Autonomy Flight Management System (AFMS), which utilizes data from local air traffic control networks.

"It became pretty apparent that there were major issues with the general aviation industry with smaller aircraft," said Marc Piette, Founder of the startup, during an interview with TechCrunch.

"And yet it had enormous potential to change the way people moved around."

For Xwing, Piette has assembled a team of talented experts. Maxime Gariel, CTO of the startup, draws experience from multiple pilotless projects, including DARPA Gremlins; while other individuals were previous employees of Google, McKinsey and the Naval Search Lab.

Making Autonomous Flight Accessible

Xwing's ‘retro fit' approach to making autonomous flight more accessible is a common strategy that is designed to boost the adoption of new technologies. For example, in the industrial lighting sector, businesses that want to transition from incandescent or fluorescent fixtures to modern LED lamps may opt to install retro-fit friendly LEDs that are compatible with existing systems. This cost-effective and timely solution does not require companies to fully replace existing fixtures in the building.

In the case of Xwing, owners of small aircrafts no longer have to consider replacing their units with pilotless models. Instead, the startup's software stack could be installed to bridge the technological gap between human-operated planes and unmanned flying cars.

According to recent reports, Xwing is in talks with numerous manufacturers in the aviation industry. The startup intends to offer its autonomous software stack to such businesses for integration with their line of products.  

"The coming wave of eVTOLs coupled with the high-cost structure of the commercial aviation industry makes the timing perfect for autonomy," highlighted Vic Singh, General Partner at Eniac Ventures.

"We believe they are the best, most experienced team and have built the leading technology platform to make intelligent autonomous aviation a reality."

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