A Melbourne-headquartered artificial intelligence (AI) tool that gives defence personnel and emergency responders better situational awareness has raised $4.45 million, with the seed round giving Arkeus the opportunity to scale manufacturing of its hyperspectral optical radar (HS-OR) technology.
Main Sequence led the seed round for optical autonomy company Arkeus with participation from Steve Baxter from Beaten Zone Venture Partners and Salus Ventures.
Arkeus is developing AI-powered hardware for autonomous drones and aircraft, designed to give customers the ability to ‘see’, understand and act on their environment in real time.
"In high consequence situations where every second counts, defence and emergency responders are often hampered by outdated sensors built for a narrow range of light wavelengths," says Arkeus CEO and co-founder Simon Olsen.
"Arkeus is pioneering a new way of sensing, built from the ground up to overcome these limitations and deliver mission-critical information at the point of contact."
Arkeus was founded three years ago by Olsen, a defence expert, and aerospace engineer Dr Jonathan Nebauer after witnessing the challenges posed by existing equipment. Since then the company has secured multiple defence contracts for its autonomous optics technology, validating the company’s approach and unlocking opportunities across both public sector and commercial applications.
"We saw an opportunity to build something new — hardware-enabled software," says Dr Nebauer.
"Our technology is customised and optimised to operate in the most adverse conditions, with minimal to no human involvement. Our job is to extract the hardest to get information from the most challenging environments, quickly."
Beyond defence, the company’s AI-powered customisable systems can be applied to tasks like disaster recovery, search and rescue missions, border security, and more.
"We were impressed by Arkeus’ ability to build a thriving company in Melbourne during the COVID-19 pandemic," says Main Sequence investment manager Alezeia Brown.
"In a short time, they have developed market-leading products, secured major contracts, and shown the versatility to solve operational needs in both defence and commercial sectors.
"Their novel approach of combining hyperspectral imaging, radar, and AI has tremendous potential to save lives by giving first responders greater situational awareness."
Beaten Zone Venture Partners founder and investor Steve Baxter says Arkeus has already demonstrated itself as a standout Australian company providing crucial, cutting-edge technology for defence worldwide.
"Simon, Jonathan and the entire Arkeus team should be immensely proud of the advancements they have achieved so far," Baxter says.
"As their growth continues, Beaten Zone Venture Partners looks forward to remaining strong partners and champions of Arkeus’ groundbreaking work into the future."
Salus Ventures managing director Mike Ferrari describes Arkeus as a leader in its field thanks to rapid innovation and domain expertise.
"Arkeus’ autonomous optical systems have the potential to revolutionise the search, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance landscape, providing critical information in challenging environments," Ferrari says.
To support its continued growth, Arkeus is also actively hiring additional technical staff in mechatronics and engineering at its Melbourne headquarters.
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