The Trondheim-based autonomous drone delivery startup, Aviant has raised $2.3 million in a seed funding round.
The investment was led by Luminar Ventures with participation from Bring Ventures, co-founders, employees, and existing investors. The Norwegian Postal Service’s venture arm, Bring Ventures, is now testing drone delivery with one of its current clients, giving the term “Air Mail” a whole new meaning.
One client, operating in Norway and Sweden, benchmarked against a far better-funded competition and discovered that Aviant outperformed it by a large margin, according to Aviant. At that temperature, rival drones physically dropped into the water.
2020 saw the birth of Aviant at MIT. Lars Erik Matsson Fagernaes, Bernhard Paus Grsdal, and Herman ie Kolden were all NTNU students, but they didn’t meet until they got to the MIT campus for their ASP in 2019.
They switched to the notion of developing a drone to transport biological samples because they had always been working on a drone-related project. They initially proposed using drones to transport biological samples between hospitals in Norway and Sweden to combat the global pandemic.
The company’s original use case was immediately significantly exceeded by the project, which included the delivery of blood, milk, water, and even spare parts to wind turbines. They went with a fixed-wing quadcopter design that offers efficient long-distance travel together with vertical takeoff and landing.
Their drone prototypes were created at MIT and tested near the running track in the Johnson Athletic Center.
The hybrid version of Aviant offers vertical takeoff, which the company claims can enhance range by up to 120 kilometers. When tested, Aviant’s products were successful in their delivery missions in gusts up to 18 m/s and temperatures as low as -26 °C.
“Drones are autonomous, emit 95% less carbon dioxide, and are up to 90% less expensive than car-based transportation. They will undoubtedly be a component of the transportation system in the future, especially for lightweight cargo, in my opinion, said Jan Gunnar Skogs of Aviant client Rros Hospital.
Image Credit: Aviant