Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a drone! Reykjavik-based startup Flygildi‘s flagship product, the Silent Flyer, is an autonomous, silent, drone that looks just like a bird – with wings that can morph during flight and fold into the body. Being silent, the drone has applications for covert and surveillance purposes, as well as wildlife photography and research.
Founded in 2012, Flygildi has just closed an angel financing round led by Spakur Finance, which it will use to fund its marketing efforts overseas and to continue developing the drone’s software.
The competitive edge of the Silent Flyer is considerable. The artificial bird can not be distinguished from a real bird by radar, and can be manufactured to look like almost any bird as a disguise. The drone can appear to look like a raven, seagull or eagle, blending into its environment. The bird is equipped with cameras and other sensors, and is usable equally on a bright day and a pitch-black night.
The Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration, ISAVIA, recently signed a contract with Flygildi with the aim of using the Flygildi’s drones to scare away living birds near airports, which are becoming an ever-increasing problem. In addition to its use at airports, Flygildi’s founders believe the drone would be ideal for the surveillance of rivers that offer angling and fish farms.
Flygildi’s representatives will go on a series of meetings in the United States with possible strategic partners and investors in the coming months. According to Helga Viðarsdóttir, the chairman of Flygildi, the drone has already garnered significant interest from the drone company Skydio, as well as representatives from Oculus as well as the weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which has shown an interest in further financing the company.
Flygildi was founded by electrical engineer Hjalti Harðarson and the aerospace engineer Dr. Leifur Þór Leifsson, an assistant professor at Iowa State University who also holds a position at Reykjavik University. Flygildi is Hjalti’s third venture, having previously founded Hugrún ehf. in 1982 with his bother Kjartan and Hafmynd ehf in 1999 along with the Fishing institute of the University of Iceland and the Marine and freshwater research institute of Iceland.