Autonomous Airplane Startup Company Xwing Raises $40 Million in Funding

By Elijah Labby Tuesday, April 20, 2021

It sounds straight from the future: autonomous airplanes zipping to and fro, carrying passengers and cargo wherever they need to go. Well, it’s not too far away. A new startup company called Xwing that aims to bring that same vision into reality has just raised $40 million in startup business funding.

Xwing aircraft.

How the Technology From the Company Works

Xwing uses lidar, radar, and cameras aboard retrofitted airplanes to make them fully autonomous. And it’s not hard to see some of the hypothetical benefits of a technology like this; it could mean safer flights guided by machine learning algorithms, a more efficient supply chain, and greater availability of the goods that the planes are transporting.

Xwing wants to bring that idea to fruition as quickly as possible. The startup company was founded in 2020 and has since seen a remarkable amount of financial success in the time since its founding. The Xwing business has managed to reach a total valuation of $400 million, counting the most recent funding round.

What the Founder of the Company Has to Say

Marc Piette, who founded the startup company, says that there are some obstacles that the company has to overcome, namely “the perception problem, the planning problem and the control problem.”

The funding is important as it will help the company expand the team, develop the technology further, and create new opportunities for the startup.

Impediments to the Growth of the Company

Piette admitted in an interview with TechCrunch that there were still challenges that his autonomous plane startup company would have to overcome because of the relatively novel nature of the business.

“I’m not going to minimize the challenge here because this is quite novel for the regulator and it’s also complex in nature from a safety perspective,” Piette told the tech news outlet last year. “I’d love to be able to start these commercial cargo operations unmanned in the US, in the very early 2022 time frame. We’ll have to see if we can make that happen.”

There are a great deal of regulations involved in launching (no pun intended) a startup business like Xwing. However, Piette says that there are some things his startup business won’t attempt to automate.

“[Xwing doesn’t] anticipate automating [communication with air traffic control], trying to do natural language processing and having a computer make the response to the air traffic controller,” Piette said. “For safety critical applications, we don’t view that as a useful path.”

The Market in Which the Company Sits

Airplanes aren’t the only thing being automated. The smart transportation market, from automated cars to autonomous trains and beyond, is growing at a rapid pace of over 8% annually, reaching a total valuation of over $121 billion by the year 2026.

The Future of the Business

As for the future of Xwing, look for the startup company to begin growing not only the number of planes the business owns but also the number of engineers and staff that work for it. The company is on a steady pace of growth and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

About the Author

Headshot of Elijah Labby

Elijah Labby is a graduate of the National Journalism Center. He has previously written for Broadband Breakfast, a technology and internet policy website.

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