Snowpoint and Baillie Gifford Lead Round
Autonomous aviation company Merlin Labs snagged $105 million in a Series B round that was led by Snowpoint and Baillie Gifford. GV (GOOGL), previously Google Ventures, also participated. With this latest funding, Merlin has $130 million in total. Though significant, that falls short of some competitors’ capital raises. Shield AI, which makes autonomous flying systems for the military, recently bagged $165 million.
Merlin asserts that with the money available it has already successfully created “8+ figures of revenue.”
Autonomous Flight System
The startup created an autonomous flight system for installation in existing aircraft. It has since acquired approval from the FAA and New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for its “certification basis” for its autonomous system. Merlin entered into several partnerships, including one with the US Air Force. The air service branch of the military will use its systems in some of their cargo plans.
Merlin utilizes sophisticated software to determine a plane’s position and altitude using external and onboard instruments.
Proposed Solution To High Transportation Costs
Merlin CEO Matt George has stated the company’s mission is to “increase pilot safety and operational flexibility by adding autonomous systems to existing aircraft.” He envisions a solution to current challenges in the aviation industry, including escalating transportation costs and a pilot shortage. He asserts that his system will support pilots by providing a robo co-pilot.
To this end, George will use the latest capital infusion for further testing, building a system for the so-called part-135 freight aircraft in New Zealand, and hiring more employees. If he is successful, the prospect of cost efficiencies could be reflected in air fares.
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