Volans-i, Inc., an on-demand drone delivery firm that builds and operates its own long-range, high-payload aircraft, has raised $20 million in Series A funding.
The funding was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, which also led Volans-i’s seed round of funding. Additional support for the seed round came from Y Combinator, a top-ranked accelerator based in Mountain View, California. Volans-i is headquartered in San Francisco with a production facility in Concord, California.
Where most drone delivery proposals are focused on getting light-weight products across the last mile to retail customers, Volans-i has developed a long-range system that can deliver heavier items like parts and medical supplies. CNBC reported in August that the firm’s aircraft were able to deliver 20 pounds as far as 500 miles. The firm envisions supporting military forces as well as commercial supply chains in sectors like construction, mining, oil and gas and heavy equipment operations.
Volans-i also plans to offer medical supply delivery and support for humanitarian response efforts. It tested some of its capabilities in Puerto Rico as the territory struggled to recover from damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Working with Merck, Direct Relief, Softbox and AT&T, Volans-i demonstrated doing deliveries of medicine to areas still cut off from roads. Softbox provided the packaging system for transporting cold-chain medications; Volans-i provided the drones and the piloting, as well the quick securing of flight permissions. Securing inter-island flight permissions has traditionally been a major stumbling block in the implementation of emergency supply drone cargo deliveries, the company said.
“Our services via unmanned aerial systems can help save lives in disaster areas”, said company co-founder Hannan Parvizian in a statement. “We are pleased to collaborate with Merck and other partners on this innovative new model of disaster-relief delivery.”