Aquila raises extra $2m for optical power beaming tech that charges drones mid-flight

Aquila raises extra $2m for optical power beaming tech that charges drones mid-flight

(L-R) Aquila's PV engineer Muhammad Hanif, mechanical engineer Rita Tri, head of operations Ruby Jones, and co-founder and CEO Billy Jeremijenko.

Sydney-based deep tech startup Aquila has raised a follow-on $2 million in funding as it gets ready to leave the nest with Lightway Sentry, a wireless energy product that uses optical power beaming to charge a drone in the air so it can fly forever.

The round, led by Alua Group with participation from existing investors Blackbird and Icehouse, comes around a year after the group's announced $3 million seed round in June 2023.

Utilising photonics, which are light beams sent from a transmitter on the ground to a solar cell receiver on the drone, Aquila claims Lightway Sentry has game-changing potential for drone applications in search and rescue, emergency services, asset management, transport, and more.

Aquila CEO Billy Jeremijenko says the funding will accelerate Lightway Sentry’s rapid development towards commercial release, recruiting top tech talent at the same time.

"We’re on track to release the world’s first optical power-beaming product into the market and recruit the best people in the world to be part of our mission," says Jeremijenko, a software developer who founded Aquila in 2022 with mechatronics engineer Nelson Smith.

"We’ve met our seed funding targets, including scaling our technology and establishing a product certification pathway. 

"We’ve demonstrated proof of concept and are now focused on making Lightway Sentry an end-to-end solution to provide 24/7 aerial situational awareness, transforming productivity and safety outcomes for many drone applications."

Aquila’s testing partners include Quickstep and Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ), with interest from global customer, such as the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Earlier this year, Aquila proved its ability to charge drones wirelessly from a 50-metre distance – more than 10times the distance previously attempted by similar technology – making it possible to power DJI (Da-Jiang Innovations) and other small drones wirelessly so they can fly forever.

The company is scaling towards longer ranges for larger drones to support broader safety and commercial applications, but the ambition is greater still with aims to scale the wireless technology to power networks, ultimately building a "clean energy network of light with no wires and no limits".

Alua founder Josh Best says the group is "immensely proud" to lead this funding round for Aquila.

"Billy Jeremijenko's vision for the future of power distribution is nothing short of revolutionary. His ability to drive progress and attract top-tier talent propels Aquila to introduce a groundbreaking product with Lightway Sentry and redefine global energy dynamics," says Best.

"We are excited to support Aquila as they transition from a promising startup to a market leader in wireless energy solutions, setting the stage for a future where energy can be moved across the globe wirelessly."

"Aquila has demonstrated some exciting technological progress that could disrupt the trillion-dollar energy sector, and we are delighted to invest further in them with this round. We eagerly look forward to the dramatic impact the first Lightway energy networking product can make when it is imminently deployed," adds Blackbird partner Niki Scevak.

Other investors in the company include Startmate and Possible Ventures.

Foundations for Lightway Sentry's technology were laid by the eccentric Serbian-American physicist Nikola Tesla the 1890s when he was looking at developing a wireless lighting system. While Tesla said at the time that he succeeded in proving his theory of wireless energy transmission, historians say there is no official evidence of this.

Enjoyed this article?

Don't miss out on the knowledge and insights to be gained from our daily news and features.

Subscribe today to unlock unlimited access to in-depth business coverage, expert analysis, and exclusive content across all devices.

Support independent journalism and stay informed with stories that matter to you.

Subscribe now and get 50% off your first year!

Four time-saving tips for automating your investment portfolio
Partner Content
In today's fast-paced investment landscape, time is a valuable commodity. Fortunately, w...
Etoro
Advertisement

Related Stories

Fashion retailer Accent Group to cut Glue Store location count in half

Fashion retailer Accent Group to cut Glue Store location count in half

The ASX-listed fashion retailer responsible for such brands as Plat...

Domino's to shutter 100 stores after crusty results

Domino's to shutter 100 stores after crusty results

The board of Domino's Pizza Enterprises (ASX: DMP) waited until...

Wing enters largest Australian drone delivery area to date through Melbourne launch with DoorDash

Wing enters largest Australian drone delivery area to date through Melbourne launch with DoorDash

Alphabet-owned drone delivery company Wing has announced its entry ...

Accolade Wines owner buys French giant Pernod Ricard’s global wine assets

Accolade Wines owner buys French giant Pernod Ricard’s global wine assets

Australian Wine Holdco, a consortium that owns the country’s ...