Airgility is a developer of drone systems that rely on artificial intelligence (AI). The company is also raising a round of capital through the equity crowdfunding platform, StartEngine. This means anyone can participate by buying Airgility stock. In fact, the minimum investment is only $248.52.
The co-founders include Chief Technology Officer Evandro Valente and CEO Pramod Raheja. Valente has more than 14 years’ experience in vehicle design, fabrication, flight testing and piloting. He also was an early contributor to the DARPA Talons Project.
As for Raheja, he has more than 30 years’ experience in the aviation/aerospace industries. He founded mystaffNow, which is focused on temporary staffing, and has even served as a captain for United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL).
Valente got the inspiration for Airgility back in 2006 while working at the University of Maryland’s Design, Build, Fly Team. This involved evaluating the unique design of the long-forgotten Vought V-173 plane, which was known as the “Flying Pancake.”
Valente realized that this could actually work if an actuation system could be added to the propulsion, which would allow for takeoffs and landings without a runway. He would go on to file provisional patent for this and then he launched Airgility in April 2017.
How It Works
Airgility has three types of drone systems:
- HS-1: This is for the purposes of delivery and communications. The HS-1 has forward and vertical flight – at a controllable angle attack – that helps to sense orientation.
- DS-1: This is a smaller drone for indoor flight. In fact, it can be used to help deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. The reason is that an attached UVC light can disinfect spaces.
- MS-1: This drone is for counter attacks and perimeter defenses. Essentially, this is when it is permissible to sacrifice the system.
Note that Airgility is preparing to launch its D-1 drone. It costs $1,000 to build and will be sold at $5,000 to $10,000. There will also be fees for subscriptions. Regarding the HS-1 and the MS-1, they are currently under development. But the company has received $450,000 in grants from the Maryland Industrial Partnership for the development.
Airgility is also part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Smart Cities Program, which has come with preorders. Moreover, there have been awards form the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the inclusion in the U.S. Air Force Lab with MassChallenge, which is a two-year pilot program.
A key for Airgility is that its systems have modular components. This has made it easier to develop various drones.
But what about the AI? Well, this type of technology is far from easy to use with a drone. The reason is that it may fly in areas that lack Internet connectivity.
So for Airgility, the drones have the AI built-in – basically, it’s about leveraging edge computing. This includes a proprietary operating system, redundant sensors, mapping, facial recognition and neural networks.
“AI will be useful in multiple aspects of the drone industry,” said Jake Berkowitz, who is the founder of Fire Flight. “For the drone itself, AI can be used to develop the control algorithms that keep the drone flying level. It can also be used for obstacle avoidance by leveraging computer vision to allow the drone to perceive the world around it. Additionally, AI will be used for autonomous flight to plan routes and to monitor the airspace.”
Invest in Airgility Stock?
For the crowdfunding campaign, the company has raised $744,459 from 1,314 investors. The valuation has been set at $12 million for Airgility stock.
Yet there are risks. First of all, there are uncertainties regarding regulations, which could impact the growth of the market (at least in the U.S.). Moreover, the use of AI is still experimental. This technology can be extremely difficult to get right and requires lots of high-quality data, which can be difficult for a startup to obtain.
And yes, there is the competition. So far, China-based DJI remains the dominant player in the drone industry but there are also various other companies getting traction.
“Airgility will face an uphill battle as the market is getting crowded and there are several very well-funded players that are many years ahead,” said Robert van Gool, who represents drone companies at Flyby Agency. “On the delivery side alone, there is Volansi that recently raised $50M in a Series B, there is Zipline, Matternet, Swoop Aero, DroneUp, Flytrex and Avy. Then there are the companies such as Walmart (NYSE:WMT), UPS (NYSE:UPS), FedEx (NYSE:FDX), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL, NASDAQ:GOOG) that are also moving into the space with ongoing development and trials happening already.”
Thus, as is the case with any private investment, it is very important to do your own analysis and make sure any investment fits within your diversification requirements.
On the date of publication, Tom Taulli did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article.
Tom Taulli (@ttaulli) is an advisor/board member for startups and author of various books and online courses about technology, including Artificial Intelligence Basics, The Robotic Process Automation Handbook and Learn Python Super Fast. He is also the founder of WebIPO, which was one of the first platforms for public offerings during the 1990s.
Investing through equity and real estate crowdfunding or asset tokenization requires a high degree of risk tolerance. Despite what individual companies may promise, there’s always the chance of losing a portion, or the entirety, of your investment. These risks include:
1) Greater chance of failure
2) Risk of fraudulent activity
3) Lack of liquidity
4) Economic downturns
5) Dearth of investor education
Read more: Private Investing Risks