High flying Japanese fund invests in Dotterel UAV Acoustics

Dotterel, a New Zealand UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) technology company, has joined some of the world’s UAV elite.

The Japan-based Drone Fund has invested in Dotterel through its Drone Fund 2, officially the Chiba Dojo Drone Fund II Investment Limited Partnership.

Managed by Kotaro Chiba and Soki Ohmae from Tokyo, Drone Fund lists 33 drone companies from around the world in its portfolio. Its focus is on creating “drone-based” and “air mobility” societies.

Dotterel develops shrouds to reduce noise generated by drone propellers and microphones for aerial audio recording. It currently provides solutions primarily to government, security and entertainment customers from the United States and Australia.

Drone Fund says noise produced by drones is a major hurdle as they become more widely accepted by the general public.

“We strongly believe that Dotterel’s technology will contribute to the social acceptance of drones and air mobility,” Drone Fund says in its statement. “Through this investment we will promote cooperation with Drone Fund’s other investees and further accelerate the social implementation of drones and air mobility.”

Shaun Edlin, Dotterel’s chief executive, says when UAV technology was just emerging, the public were generally excited to see them in action. But as they are used more routinely across a variety of industries, they are often viewed by the general public as a nuisance due to their noise.

“An example of this are current UAV logistics trials for delivery of parcels happening around the world where there has been public outrage due to the incessant noise,” Edlin says. “As a result, regulatory bodies are moving to set noise standards that will restrict their use.

“Our noise reduction technology is essential to help increase the public acceptance of UAVs, allowing them to achieve their commercial potential unrestricted by noise challenges.”

Dotterel also sees societal benefit in drones, such as for search and rescue missions.

“Today’s UAVs are carrying incredible visual sensors that provide eyes in the skies that can save lives. However, in terms of situational awareness we are only streaming one of the senses to the operator team on the ground: vision.

“The operator is still essentially deaf, unable to hear people yelling for help or detect gunfire. UAV operators haven’t had a function to verbally communicate with people in an emergency to understand their immediate needs.

“Dotterel’s aerial audio system allows operators to hear as well as see and that’s helping them to make better decisions to help save lives”.

Dotterel is now seeing a growing use of drones in emergencies, like the COVID-19 crisis.

“Right now drones being utilised across Europe to enforce quarantine, carry loudspeakers to provide messages about curfew, and things like that,” Edlin says. “With so many people quarantined around the world, allowing verbal communication between drone operators and quarantined individuals will help keep people safe and informed.”