Autonomous small aircraft startup takes off

August 06, 2018 // By Rich Pell
Autonomous aviation startup Xwing (San Francisco, CA) has announced the closing of a $4 million seed round in its bid to build a suite of technologies for pilotless flight of small passenger aircraft.

The funding round, says the company, will allow it to scale operations and continue to hire top aerospace and software talent in its mission to "dramatically increase human mobility via fully-autonomous, affordable and clean personal aerial vehicles." The funding round was led by Eniac Ventures with participation from Array Ventures and prominent angels and aviation buffs, including John and Patrick Collison, founders of Stripe, as well as Nat Friedman of Xamarin, Microsoft, and GitHub.

"Aviation is currently undergoing what will be a seismic shift," says Marc Piette, Xwing Founder and CEO. "In the not-so-distant future, technology will dramatically change the way people and goods move and transform transportation as a whole. Xwing has brought together experts in optionally-piloted vehicles, unmanned systems, and certified avionics, to develop key autonomous flight technology and accelerate this change."

Founded in 2016, Xwing is focused on building the technologies necessary for fully-autonomous flight of smaller, cost-effective passenger aircraft. These include the key functions of autonomous flight - sensing, reasoning, and control - and the development and integration of technologies for rotorcraft, general aviation fixed-wing, and new emerging electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for each of these capabilities.

"The coming wave of eVTOLs coupled with the high-cost structure of the commercial aviation industry makes the timing perfect for autonomy," says Vic Singh, Founding General Partner, Eniac Ventures. "We are excited to support Marc and Xwing. We believe they are the best, most experienced team and have built the leading technology platform to make intelligent autonomous aviation a reality."

Xwing's perception technology uses a suite of sensors to allow aircraft to perceive their surroundings. The input from these sensors is algorithmically fused to reliably detect ground-based and airborne hazards and precisely determine the vehicle's position.

The company's Autonomy Flight Management System (AFMS) enables the aircraft to then act upon the information from its surroundings. It will integrate with air traffic control, generate flight paths to

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