Dotterel Technologies on steep growth path
Auckland June 2 2016: Winning the Newsshooter “Most Innovative Product of NAB 2016” Award in Las Vegas last month has supercharged Dotterel Technologies’ development.
NAB (the United States’ National Association of Broadcasters) is the world’s largest annual convention to launch innovative products, which attracts more than 100,000 key influencers from media, entertainment and technology.
Dotterel, part of the NZ showcase of technology promoted by Callaghan Innovation, showed off its noise reducing shrouds for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Since taking the award the New Zealand start-up has attracted interest from the likes of US film production company Dreamworks – and from international financial media that lets investors know where their next rich pickings might be.
Matthew and Seamus Rowe and Shaun Pentecost, the trio of brothers who founded the company in 2015, say they are now are working with their partners and suppliers to accelerate development of their shroud technology – and to raise several hundred thousand dollars to immediately fund that.
“We have had backing from friends and family and Callaghan Innovation to get to this stage, and amazing support from partners and suppliers, but we will need to consider angel investors and the like soon,” he says. “We are now also planning a Series A capital raise next year.”
Dotterel is in the same innovation hub in Auckland where the trio’s previous employer LanzaTech started, before taking its carbon recycling technology to the world and raising more than US$200 million along the way. Will Barker, who led LanzaTech’s international patent team is an advisor to Dotterel, as is Peter Wigley who, out of the same innovation hub, sold his agriculture biotechnology into US company BioConsortia.
Matthew says Dotterel (named after the NZ Dotterel bird) grew out of an interest in the UAV market (or drones as they are commonly known), which is predicted to be worth nearly US$125 billion within 10 years.
Shaun and Seamus have backgrounds in mechatronics and electrical engineering and Matthew in chemical engineering, but more recently doing management consulting. Matthew says they sat down and looked at opportunities with drones and their focus quickly fell on the need for noise reduction for aerial cinematographers. Film makers normally have to eliminate the sound of a drone’s engine in post-production, which is both time consuming and expensive.
“Since then we have identified further larger potential for the use of our technology in military UAVs and also in agriculture,” Matthew says.
The brothers are presenting a paper at international noise control technology congress Inter-Noise 2016, in Germany in August.
“We are presenting with both Microflown Technologies and Revolution Fibres,” Matthew says. “Revolution Fibres is the Auckland-based manufacturer and supplier of Phonix acoustic nano-materials and is our supply partner of the functional nanofibers that we incorporate into our acoustic shrouds.
“Microflown is our Netherlands-headquartered partner that provides us its unique micro-electromechanical system technology (MEMS) that is incorporated in many solutions such as its 2D and 3D scan and paint products. This unique technology and sound source localisation solution gives us a fast and accurate tool to visualise sound fields in an intuitive way.”
The conference paper explains how drone noise can be reduced and redirected. Microflown’s solutions deliver sound maps, using colour to show the intensity of sound, which helps with the fine tuning of Dotterel’s shroud.
Dotterel has a working prototype that already reduces noise by several decibels. The brothers’ eventual aim is to have a UAV that is so quiet that you don’t even know it is overhead despite it not being very high above.
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