Skyryse raises $13 million to launch an autonomous helicopter platform

Skyryse today announced the launch of its autonomous platform Flight Stack and said it has raised $13 million. Earlier this week, the company shared that it had completed its first flight without human intervention near company headquarters in Hawthorn, California. The funding will be used to continue development of Flight Stack.

Skyryse may be best known for autonomous systems tests to help get first responders to medical emergencies.

Unlike futuristic flying taxis being created by companies like Uber and Volocopter, Skyryse’s Flight Stack platform is designed to operate with Robinson R-44 helicopters and existing commercially available helicopters. Flight Stack is not being used by commercial helicopter companies at this time. Bell, who may work with Uber, is also developing an automated vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) solution, but its Nexus air taxi is not expected to be available until the mid-2020s. A Boeing autonomous air taxi completed its first test flight earlier this year.

Flight Stack uses sensors to control helicopter movement for takeoff, landing, and flight control. The platform also relies on what Skyryse calls smart helipads, a battery of sensors on the ground in landing zones that factor in things like weather, wind, and detection of low-flying objects.

The company chose this year to focus on the Flight Stack platform rather than maintaining a manned helicopter transport service to ferry people back and forth with helicopters. In a pilot program this summer, the company flew over 1,000 manned flights in Los Angeles, a spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.

Skyryse currently has 40 employees, and since launch it said it has raised $38 million. The $13 million funding round included participation from Ford Motors chair Bill Ford and Fontinalis.

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