Emesent, a drone autonomy spin-out from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), has raised A$3.5 million ($2.5 million) in its venture capital funding round led by Main Sequence Ventures.
Main Sequence Ventures manages the CSIRO Innovation Fund, which was established as part of the Federal Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda.
Emesent is the creator of Hovermap, a 3D lidar mapping technology that allows low-cost, high-resolution unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based lidar mapping for both indoors and outdoors.
The lidar is also used in real-time for collision avoidance, providing a virtual safety sphere around the UAV.
Last year, Hovermap, which is already being used commercially for a variety of applications by early adopters in Australia, the US, Canada, China and Japan, enabled the world’s first fully autonomous beyond line-of-sight drone flight in an underground mine, 600 metres below the surface of Western Australia.
“Hovermap enables the mining industry to safely inspect inaccessible areas of underground mines, while improving the type and quality of data collected to unlock new insights,” said Emesent co-founder and CEO Dr Stefan Hrabar.
The data it gathers improves a mine’s productivity and provides a better understanding of conditions underground, all without sending surveyors and miners into potentially hazardous areas, Hrabar added.
He said the fresh investment will give Emesent “the opportunity to build out our team from seven to 25”, and make the company “a global leader in drone autonomy and automated underground data collection and analysis”.
Larry Marshall, CSIRO Chief Executive, sees businesses like Emesent as a necessary step towards Australia realising its global digital innovation potential.
“Emesent is an example of a company who has hit the innovation sweet
spot combining their deep domain experience in mining with digital expertise,” Marshall said.
In a statement, CSIRO, the technology arm of Australia’s national science agency, said the real world applications of Emesent’s technology extends beyond mining and can be integrated into industries such as underground rail and road transport, telecommunications, and disaster response.