Daedalean Head of Flight Testing Louis Schreuder holds a prototype of a 4-camera (positioning, landing and detect-and-avoid) dome used for mounting on helicopters.

AI Software Developer Daedalean Gaining Momentum

By Richard Whittle

Daedalean AG — a four-year-old Swiss startup developing aircraft-agnostic flight control software using computer-vision and machine-learning to perform tasks ranging from pilot augmentation to fully autonomous flight — is conducting a Series B funding round with a $25M goal by the end of this year. Daedalean plans to use the Series B funding to bring its first products to market in 2021 — safety-enhancing autoland and collision warning software — with avionics hardware partners Avidyne Corp., Honeywell and BendixKing.

With previous funding of $17.5M from investors including Honeywell, Zurich-based Daedalean has developed and tested an initial system that uses cameras and software to land an aircraft on any runway, and can detect and track other air traffic. Daedalean’s previous lead investor has been Carthona Capital, a Sydney, Australia-based venture capital fund that typically invests in early startup funding rounds and often continues to invest in later ones.

“Our existing investors are happy to follow up, but we’re looking for a new lead who is clearly in it for the money,” said Daedalean’s founder and chief executive officer, Luuk van Dijk. “We want to get a purely financial-minded lead investor who says, ‘I see large commercial opportunities.’” Investments in successful software development, van Dijk noted, “have a relatively high return on investment.”

Daedalean’s previous funding includes a $2.5M grant from the European Union, and the company recently published a joint study with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on proposed guidelines for how to certify the safety of machine-learning systems in aircraft. Daedalean also has worked with Volocopter, a German company whose VC-200 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) prototype has been used to test Daedalean’s experimental systems.

Van Dijk, a former Google software engineer who also spent a year as a flight software development engineer at Elon Musk’s SpaceX company, said the eVTOL movement inspired him to found Daedalean, but the company’s products are being designed for all manner of aircraft, including those flown by pilots on board, by remote control or autonomously. However, the company’s 10-year goal is to produce a certifiable autonomous flight control system that uses artificial intelligence based on machine-learning using neural networks.

Daedalean team members — Chief of Integration Armin Burgmeier (left) and Head of Simulation Peter de Lange – with the experimental setup used for fixed-wing visual landing guidance
Daedalean team members — Chief of Integration Armin Burgmeier (left) and Head of Simulation Peter de Lange – with the experimental setup used for fixed-wing visual landing guidance (Daedalean photo)

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