Skyborne mentioned in Parliament

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Skyborne is pleased to be featured in a media statement by Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development and Minister for the Commonwealth Games, The Honourable Kate Jones.

Skyborne received a grant in round 2 of the government’s Ignite Ideas program to further development on the Cerberus GL platform and have secured a Series A funding following the initial support for Cerberus GL.

Dr Michael Creagh, CEO, says “It has been an amazing two years for Skyborne under Advance Queensland's Ignite Ideas program, securing a Series A round of investment to expand our engineering team and manufacturing capabilities to deliver a commercialised product to interested parties. Raising capital for the next generation of tactical UAVs is not an easy undertaking and without grant programs like Ignite Ideas, companies like ours face an even greater struggle.”

CBO Adrian Dudok says “With the continued support from the Queensland Government, Skyborne will contribute towards the focus on strengthening Queensland’s defence and manufacturing industry. The export opportunities are endless and we’ve received some serious interest from the US and Middle East.”

Related links:

The Queensland Cabinet and Ministerial Directory - Brisbane company secures $US2.45m for high-tech defence drones

Skyborne to participate in Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment 2020

Skyborne is delighted to have been selected for the US Army Maneuver Battle Lab's Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE2020).

We will be working in with the US Army to partake in live fire excursions and force-on-force events at Fort Benning, Georgia. This is a fantastic opportunity for Skyborne to demonstrate our Cerberus UAS to not only US Army infantry, but also a small contigent of British and (most likely) Australian troops. We look forward to their honest feedback so we can rapidly iterate on our designs and functionality to provide something useful in the field.

Initial feedback from the Initial Planning Conference has been highly encouraging and we look forward to the upcoming events over the next twelve months.

Related links:

AEWE Homepage

Skyborne Technologies armed with US$2.45M capital raise

Skyborne Technologies is proud to announce the completion of Series A capital raise of US$2.45M. The funds will support the growth and continued development of the lightest armed micro tactical UAV, targeting the defence and law enforcement market. The capital raised is from a private institutional investor based in Abu Dhabi, UAE who seeks opportunities with tech start-ups in the early stages of growth. Skyborne’s existing shareholders welcome the new investor as a shareholder and investor board member.  The investment will grow the company over the next 24 months to further develop and mature the target and firing weapon system on Skyborne’s Cerberus GL UAV that will lead to commercialisation. 

The US$2.45M Series A capital raised will be used as much needed working capital to develop Skyborne’s bespoke targeting and firing control system. The funds will support the expansion of the team from 3 to 10 full time employees, securing a commercial premise (mixed office and workshop) and procurement of hardware for the development and testing of the integrated system.  

The investment establishes an aggressive tech development timeline to get Cerberus GL to market. Within 6 months a live firing demonstration will be performed to demonstrate the capabilities of Cerberus GL. The following 18 months will allow Skyborne to refine the platform for commercialisation efforts in anticipation for customer trials and sales.  

The investment is the largest amount of capital the company has raised to date and is an important milestone. The success is off the back of the 12-month Queensland State Government Advance QLD Ignite Ideas Fund awarded to the company to design and assemble 2 flying prototypes of the Cerberus GL. The recent investment into the Queensland economy has ensured Queensland’s defence industry strengthen and allows SMEs, like Skyborne Technologies, to participate and innovative hardware products. The investment has also created additional jobs in the QLD economy, which is one of the key goals for the state government. The Australian Government’s 2016 Defence White Paper and Integrated Investment Program projected an increase in defence spend over the decade to 2025-26 to close to AU$450 billion. 

Related Articles:

Defence Connect - Skyborne Technologies secures US$2.45m in US cap raise


Company Background

Skyborne Technologies was founded in 2014 and based in Brisbane, Australia. The company founders are Dr. Michael Creagh (CEO/CTO) and Mr. Adrian Dudok (CBO/CFO). Since 2014 the R&D company has been developing a tri-tilt rotor UAV platform suitable for consumer, commercial and the defence market. The company decided to focus on a niche within the defence and law enforcement market, adapting an armament to the unique UAV platform design. Two years on, the company has secured capital to continue development efforts for the lightest armed micro tactical UAV, named the Cerberus GL.  

Skyborne’s Cerberus GL is the lightest armed micro tactical Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV), at around 6 kgs. It provides both law enforcement and defence force an airborne direct fire support UAV with multi-threat engagement, in addition to providing standard Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) small UCAVs on the market.   

The unique tri-tilt rotor platform design allows for the airframe to be used the primary gimbal to gross aim an armament, such as 40mm grenades (HE, Smoke, Flashbang, Tear gas), without the need for a low-slung, heavy gimbal system. The unique airframe design allows for a small light weight armed UAV.  

Skyborne at Army Innovation Day 2018

Skyborne was very pleased to be selected to display and pitch at Army Innovation Day 2018. We had a fantastic audience, including Chief of Army Lt Gen Rick Burr, Head of Land Capability Maj Gen Kathryn Toohey, head of SUAS Lt Col Keirin Joyce and Australian tech investor Steve Baxter. 

Army Innovation Day 2018 included a short-cycle nomination, selection and demonstration for three themes. Skyborne submitted Cerberus GL under the Robotics and Autonomous Systems in the Combat Team theme. We were amongst 19 companies and 24 technologies selected to demonstrate capability.

Major General Toohey spoke at the conclusion of the day: "We have seen robotics and autonomous systems that improve a combat team’s engagement, various techniques for improving communications systems, and learnt of new examples of small drones that assist soldiers in having increased situational awareness."

Army will now engage in an assessment process to fund selected demonstrations that will proceed to user evaluations in Army units. More to come!

Skyborne at Land Forces 2018

Skyborne attended the Land Forces 2018 Exhibition in Adelaide last week. Never a dull moment, Skyborne was nominated and shortlisted for four innovation awards (SME Innovation Grant, Young Innovator Award, Innovation Award for Combat Equipment and Mobility and National Innovation Award) and participated in the 3-minute pitch competition. We are delighted to announce that we took out the pitchfest award for “Land Force Benefit”, which was one of three awards in a 30-team line-up. Defence Minister Christopher Pyne presented CEO Michael Creagh with the award.

Business development meetings and networking events took up the majority of the time in Adelaide and we’re likely to see the flow-on benefits over the next few months. Thanks to DST Group, The Australian Army, CASG and the LAND4108 / 159 project leaders who took time out of their busy schedules to visit our stand and observe the latest Cerberus GL developments.

Most folks that visited were huge fans of our technology concept and wanted to see it develop further. Some questions that came up often were:

1) “How does Cerberus GL compare to loitering munitions?”

Loitering munitions have their place, however it’s a different platform to Cerberus GL. If your only goal of squad and platoon level fire support is weight minimisation, then utilise a loitering munition every time. However, Cerberus GL offers four advantages over such devices. Firstly, cost. A loitering munition consumes its airframe, flight computer and optics etc when it explodes on the target. Cerberus GL fires standard 40mm grenades; a few orders of magnitude lower costs per shot. There are also multiple grenades to use if the armament is a multishot grenade launcher. Secondly, Cerberus GL provides persistent ISR and battle damage assessment after firing. Loitering munitions (almost by definition) cannot. Thirdly, speed of effector. Loitering munitions are at best subsonic fixed-wing aircraft, with a top speed of perhaps 40 m/s. A standard HE 40mm grenade has a muzzle velocity of approximately double this at 76 m/s. For targets of opportunity, Cerberus can quickly aim and fire a high speed round. Finally, operation flexibility is far superior with Cerberus. Shotguns, net-guns, micro-munitions etc could all be fitted, let alone the range of 40mm grenade types available (HE, smoke, IR, flash, CS etc). This means that the right armament is chosen for the right mission.  

2) “How can you achieve good accuracy with your system? The airframe has noise on it.”

Time will tell what kind of accuracy we will get from our combination of airframe pointing and small-range weapon gimbal aiming. Theoretically we can achieve a Circular Error Probable of 1.5 m at a range of 180m. However, if all we do is match a soldier’s accuracy, we already have a useful fire support platform. Better to keep our soldiers out of harm’s way.

3) “How can your UAS handle counter UAS devices such as drone-shield?”

These counter UAS devices perform one or a number of the following: GNSS jamming, GNSS spoofing, radio communications jamming and spoofing. Cerberus has no specific defences against these systems other than encrypted communications at this stage. However, counter-weapon devices exist for every type of weapon to some extent. For example, one could argue that there’s no point in having an assault rifle on the battlefield because armoured vehicles exist. The current nature of asymmetric warfare is such that it’s highly unlikely that a modern adversary of the Australian Army and its allies would a) have access to the same EW drone jamming and hijacking devices that we do and b) always have them on standby. Consider for example, the counter-terrorism role Cerberus GL might play, firing flash grenades through windows in a hostage situation. How easy is it for terrorists to buy (for example) an IAI ELI – 4030, get trained in its operation and set it up? 

More generally, the Cerberus platform is a game-changing, compounding innovation system. We start the design with the most efficient hover platform possible. A helicopter is the most efficient for hover efficiency but cannot adequately tilt during hover to point munitions up and down and would require a low hanging, high angular range gimbal mechanism to point the weapon. Cerberus has only two main lift fans and a balance fan due to the novel centre of gravity placement towards the front.  It is 20% more efficient in hover than a quad-copter of the same mass. This twin-actuating propeller system allows airframe pointing of the weapons, which in turn allows the weapon and weapon gimbal to be mounted close to the centre of gravity. This has a two-fold advantage: streamlined flat packaging for ease of transport and reduction of the recoil pitch-down moment, which enables minimisation of platform mass. The intrinsic recoil robustness of the platform in combination with the hover efficiency allows the entire vehicle to be so small and light, coming in at under 6 kg. 

The Land Forces event was exciting, educational and informative! We made a mission example promo video that was released at the event, feel free to check it out!

Finally, it is very exciting times here at Skyborne – we will have some special news in the next update.

Skyborne takes off in Abu Dhabi

Skyborne is delighted to announce that we were selected in the Top 5 start-ups in the world for Krypto Lab’s Drone Innovation Start-Up Contest 2018 (DISC 2018). 

The Drone Innovation Start-Up Contest aims to recognise the top innovators from around the world who are redefining and pioneering the unmanned aerial vehicle landscape.  The application of these UAV’s span from the field of aerial photography, transportation and logistics to terrestrial mapping and law enforcement. 

Dr Michael Creagh (CEO and CTO) and Adrian Dudok (CBO and CFO) attended and Michael pitched live onstage for the grand finale held at Krypto Labs’ state-of-the-art premises in Masdar City on the 6th May.  The DISC attracted over 600 applications from 61 countries with the five finalists vying to win up to $500,000 USD in funding and mentorship. 

Skyborne had the opportunity to showcase the Cerberus GL, the tactical UAV at 6kg, to a great number of attendees consisting of industry experts, entrepreneurs and investors.   Addressing not only a gap in the tactical UAV market but also the adaptability and practical applications of the Cerberus GL that customers and investors seek. 

The top 5 was composed of a vast range of UAV start-ups, all pitching different product applications.

5th place: Internest - a French start-up designing a precision landing system utilising ultrasonic sensors.

4th place:  Inkonova – from Sweden start-up design a UAV that has wheels to either be a ground or aerial vehicle with a tilt-rotor design.

3rd place: Skyborne Technologies – lightest armed tactical UAV

2th place: Asylon – a US based start-up designing an automated battery swap station to increase UAV utilisation

1st place: Voliro – a Swiss start-up company has taken first prize with their tilt rotor UAV having the ability to carry out aerobatic manoeuvres for a variety of commercial applications. Congratulations team Voliro!

The pitch night was a phenomenal success and Skyborne had the opportunity to expand our network to include other start-ups and the Middle East, including their defence market.  

Skyborne would like to personally thank Krypto Labs' Managing Director, Dr Saleh Al Hashemi, for the opportunity provided to be part of DISC and showcase the Cerberus GL.  

The team with Krypto Labs' Managing Director, Dr Saleh Al Hashemi

The team with Krypto Labs' Managing Director, Dr Saleh Al Hashemi

 

Few photos of our tour in Abu Dhabi

Introducing the Cerberus GL

I am very pleased to announce the Cerberus GL prototype. At under six kilograms, the Cerberus GL is capable of performing aerial fire support missions at the squad and platoon level. Soon to be armed with a multishot electronically-fired grenade launcher, Cerberus will be able to get our soldiers out of tight spots under fire and perform numerous other roles on the battlefield with the lightest possible multiple-shot UAS platform.  

UAVs have become a mixed blessing. With organisations such as ISIS strapping grenades to commercial drones and terrorising allied soldiers and civilians alike, new challenges have presented themselves to our armed forces. The motivation behind the Cerberus GL is to address these challenges. We intend not only to exceed the capabilities of these 'terror drones' with a cost-effective platform, but to provide broader multi-role flexibility in rapid IED/mine clearing, counter-UAS operations and counter-terrorism. 

It has been an amazing year under Advance Queensland's Ignite program. We are incredibly grateful to the Queensland Government (special note to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Minister for Science Leanne Enoch and our local MP Joan Pease) for providing this opportunity to our young company. The grant program has funded two (near-identical) UAV prototypes plus spares, enabled us to put a full-time mechanical engineer on and paid for numerous business development trips around Australia, (and soon) overseas. We are under no illusions that raising capital for a hotly contested defence product is an easy undertaking and without grant programs like Ignite and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, companies like ours face an even greater struggle. 

For more information, please see our Cerberus GL page.     

More to come...

Dr Michael Creagh (CEO)

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Celebrating International Women's Day 2018

The theme for 2018's International Women's Day (IWD) is #PressForProgress - there are many aspects to this, for example challenging statements that limit women and assuming women want opportunities until declined.

Engineering - and the drone industry - are somewhat infamous for their masculine culture. Oftentimes if we talk about flying for a particular project, or discussing the design of our drone, you'll hear things like "when can the boys go and fly?" or "can you check with him about this aspect?".

This seems like a minor difference in language, but the assumption that drone pilots or engineers are automatically male is part of the inclusive mindset that IWD advocates for.

I've personally worked with remarkable drone pilots and engineers, both female and male, and the best results usually come about when we work as a team and are able to communicate with each other.

Studies on teams in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) have shown that achieving gender parity within the group is key to improving collective intelligence and group performance, and "having a few 'token' women on scientific teams does not appear to be sufficient in order to improve performance."

In other words, our actions now will have an effect on future STEM team performance and allow women in STEM teams to perform to their fullest.

I was fortunate to be keynote speaker for the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training's Alice Through The Looking Glass IWD event to encourage young women in high school to choose entrepreneurship and non-traditional STEM careers and in the process, break through glass ceilings.

Having a mechanical and aerospace engineering background and currently the Head of Operations for Skyborne's aerial services division, I'd like to lead by example and show what opportunities are available to these young women. 

Photo: Andrea Ambrosio

Photo: Andrea Ambrosio

Enjoying the lolly bar

The splendid Salt House in Cairns was also host to an IWD luncheon to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. I was privileged as guest speaker to present what we can achieve with drones, ranging from beautiful promotional material to aerial photogrammetry and LiDAR surveys.

One of the themes for IWD is to challenge stereotypes and how better to demonstrate this than to extend what we expect from drones (photography) and the image of the drone pilot and engineer?

Sneak peek of our Cerberus prototype amongst charity auction items - stay tuned for more news!

One of the most groundbreaking examples of this technology is the discovery of a huge Mayan megalopolis in the Guatemalan jungle - the overgrown vegetation has hidden the pyramids and roads for centuries. Flying over the site with a UAV equipped with LiDAR, the laser beams penetrate through the treetops and to the rock structures beneath, allowing for even more research possibilities and adding to our collective knowledge of previous civilisations.

Spoilt by Salt House!

Chocolate heaven

International Women's Day doesn't start or end on March 8 - it's a continual challenge to our inherent biases, to genuinely respect the abilities of each and every person, and paying attention to our day-to-day behaviours.

Skyborne supports giving opportunities to capable individuals and will continue to stand for equality.