What’s in Latvian drone project that raised USD 8 million?

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Investment of USD 8 million! Local and international media reported about this hard-to-believe development. That is the amount that Latvian drone startup Atlas Dynamics raised to enter the North American market. The founders of the company made their first drone in response to a challenge from their friends, now they run a business that has consolidated Latvia’s positions as a drone superpower.

The company’s founders and drone designers have a lot of experience in aeronautics. Both have worked in aviation for several years, accumulating valuable knowledge and experience. "Two years ago, friends of Ivan Tolchinsky, a co-owner of the company, told him jokingly to build a drone that would film them ski. Ivan accepted the challenge. In addition to his main job, Ivan began building a drone. During the design stage, he was assisted by the other co-owner of the company, Igor Zhydanov. In a couple of months, the two built a tricopter," says Atlas Dynamics Chief Creative Officer Linda Vanaga. 

What started as a joke is now reality – the company was founded in 2015. Now it makes drones and drone software. At the moment, the company is making professional drones under the Atlas PRO brand, but it is also planning to launch a line of drones for non-professionals, which will be titled Erida.

How is the drone different from other drones? "Atlas PRO achieve longer flight times, wider ranges, faster speeds and greater altitudes. The drone has versatile sensors and can be used for infrastructure inspection, construction, first response, and others," Vanaga explains the differences. The team of developers believes that drones have to be accessible and used on a daily basis, to help people optimize time and resources, and even save people’s lives.

"We are using our background and knowledge in aerospace technology to equip our products with sophisticated aeronautical design, combined with ease-of-use, durability, and accessibility for every business. Atlas Dynamics utilizes its proprietary technologies, including full carbon-fiber hulls, smart lithium-silicon batteries, electronic communication, and mechanical components that enable users to optimize flight time and data collection capabilities. The Atlas PRO drone platform provides up to 55 minutes of flight time and ranges of up to 50 km, and is able to operate in day/night scenarios and extreme weather conditions," Vanaga explains.

The products are currently in development. Prototypes of drones in the professional line are to ship in the fall of 2017. The first consumer drones will be shipped at the end of 2017. Representatives of the startup emphasize that the consumer market segment is the more complicated one.

The company will be showcasing its solutions at the international drone conference InterDrone 2017, to be held in Las Vegas on September 5-7.

There is little information available about the USD 8 million raised by the company – the names of private and institutional investors have not been revealed as yet. What we know at the moment is that the company will use the capital to advance the development of its Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) and Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone-based data solutions, and to build its presence in key markets, including North America.