Cloudline Raises $6M In Funding To Revolutionize Aerial Autonomy


South African aerospace startup Cloudline has secured $6 million in funding to lead the global frontier of carbon emissions-free autonomous flight. The investment comes from Schmidt Futures, the philanthropic venture founded by ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Wendy Schmidt, along with other backers such as the Raba Partnership, Verod-Kepple Africa Ventures, and 4Di.

Key Takeaway

Cloudline’s innovative approach to autonomous flight and its focus on hardware give it a competitive edge in the market, with the potential to revolutionize aerial autonomy on a global scale.

Revolutionizing Aerial Autonomy

Cloudline, founded by CEO Spencer Horne, aims to connect isolated communities to the global supply chain using lighter-than-air uncrewed aerial vehicles. The company’s focus on autonomous airships provides a cost-efficient alternative to drones, helicopters, and satellites, offering long-distance real-time data capture to locations that are the hardest to reach and the most expensive to serve.

Cloudline’s airships, powered by helium gas and solar energy, are capable of covering more than 400 km with a fully loaded payload of 40 kg, operating for 10 hours. This breakthrough technology allows the startup to extend the use of its platform into various applications, including mapping, monitoring, and public safety.

Game-Changing Technology

Spencer Horne emphasized that Cloudline’s platform play can be game-changing in reaching areas that are typically harder to reach or become incredibly expensive to serve. The startup’s focus on hardware and its first-mover advantage give it a strong position in the market, with robust intellectual property lying in integrating software with the hardware to create autonomy for the airships.

Expanding Global Reach

Cloudline has launched commercial operations in South Africa, completed regulatory approvals, and is actively working on expanding into neighboring countries, Namibia and Mozambique, before tackling global markets. The startup has already seen a 4x increase in revenue during 2023 and is projecting substantial growth for 2024, driven by new multi-million dollar enterprise contracts.

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