Docking drone attracts investor

The start-up AeroVinci has received an investment of 300,000 euros to develop an autonomous drone that automatically lands to recharge and lifts off afterwards.

We are familiar with the turtle-shaped robot lawnmower that returns to its docking station when its battery runs low. The DroneDock technology developed by the Delft start-up Aerovinci is even more ingenious.

A drone lands autonomously, close to the docking station. A charging coil then moves toward it and, using induction, charges the drone's batteries in about half an hour. While charging, data is exchanged and processed before the drone takes off again and continues its task.

Aerovinci develops autonomous surveillance for agricultural and security applications. ‘Consider farmers,' the press release says, 'whose land is surveyed from the air and who then automatically receive advice on the intelligent use of irrigation, fertilisers, and pesticides. This can ensure higher yields and lower costs per hectare.’

The drone is in the process of being patented, hence only a photo of the prototype is available. Its span is 1.30 metres and it weighs less than three kilograms.

Regulations

Autonomous drones are banned in The Netherlands. CEO and co-founder, Jochem Wieringa MSc, does not see this as an obstacle. "We're orienting towards South America and the United States for our prime customers," said Wieringa. "Regulations are different everywhere, but at least they have more open space than we do."

UNIIQ investment fund and Delft Enterprises' decision to invest in this venture was announced at The Unmanned Systems (TUS) Expo in The Hague on Wednesday March 19 2017.

UNIIQ is interested in the potential of DroneDock technology. "Drones represent a huge, untapped market, but the problem is that a human pilot is still needed for each drone," explained Liduina Hammer, Fund Manager at UNIIQ. "However, AeroVinci's technology removes the need for human intervention, and this will accelerate the market expansion of drones."

Aerovinci has planned test and demo flights at the nearby Valkenburg drone test location in a few weeks' time.