Arkeus secures $4.45m to scale search and surveillance systems

Tuesday, 06 February, 2024

Arkeus secures $4.45m to scale search and surveillance systems

Arkeus, an Australian optical autonomy company developing AI-powered hardware for autonomous drones and aircraft, has raised $4.45 million in seed funding to help scale manufacturing and enhance the capabilities of the company’s next-generation hardware-enabled software platform for search, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The funding round was led by deep tech venture capital firm Main Sequence, with participation from Steve Baxter from Beaten Zone Venture Partners and Salus Ventures.

In high-risk environments like defence and search and rescue operations, first responders need to make split-second decisions based on their knowledge of the landscape, objects and people around them. Yet too often, those decisions rely on systems built decades ago that capture only a narrow visual range, are blinded by darkness or weather, and require extensive and time-consuming manual analysis before any recommendations can be made.

Arkeus’s optical systems are built for modern operating environments, giving responders the ability to ‘see’ and respond in real time, using data from a wide range of visible and non-visible light spectra with autonomous capabilities capable of real-time detection, recognition and tracking of relevant people and objects in complex environments.

“In high-consequence situations where every second counts, defence and emergency responders are often hampered by outdated sensors built for a narrow range of light wavelengths,” said Arkeus CEO and co-founder Simon Olsen. “Arkeus is pioneering a new way of sensing, built from the ground up to overcome these limitations and deliver mission-critical information at the point of contact.”

Arkeus was founded by Olsen, a defence expert, and aerospace engineer Dr Jonathan Nebauer after they witnessed the challenges posed by existing equipment. Olsen explained, “We saw an opportunity to build something new — hardware-enabled software. Our technology is customised and optimised to operate in the most adverse conditions, with minimal to no human involvement. Our job is to extract the hardest-to-get information from the most challenging environments, quickly.”

Since its founding three years ago, Arkeus has secured multiple defence contracts for its autonomous optics technology, unlocking opportunities across both public sector and commercial applications. Beyond defence, the company’s AI-powered customisable systems can be applied to tasks like disaster recovery, search and rescue missions, border security and more.

“Arkeus’s autonomous optical systems have the potential to revolutionise the search, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance landscape, providing critical information in challenging environments,” said Salus Ventures Managing Director Mike Ferrari. “Their rapid innovation and domain expertise make them a global leader in the field.”

Arkeus is initially focused on use cases in search, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, including in defence, search and rescue, firefighting and police operations. The seed funding will enable the company to scale up production of its core product suite and continue R&D into new capabilities. Arkeus is also actively hiring additional technical staff in mechatronics and engineering at its Melbourne headquarters.

“We were impressed by Arkeus’s ability to build a thriving company in Melbourne during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Alezeia Brown, Investment Manager at Main Sequence. “In a short time, they have developed market-leading products, secured major contracts and shown the versatility to solve operational needs in both defence and commercial sectors. Their novel approach of combining hyperspectral imaging, radar and AI has tremendous potential to save lives by giving first responders greater situational awareness.”

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