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Pyka closes $37M Series A for electric autonomous plane

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Apr 26, 2022
A Pyke pilotless airplane flies low above green cropland.

A Pyka Pelican aircraft in flight. Photo courtesy of Pyka.

The startup Pyka has raised a $37 million Series A round to accelerate deployment of its pilotless, battery-powered crop duster, the Pelican.

Why it matters: The plane is currently being used for agriculture, but Pyka CEO Michael Norcia says the company plans to expand to cargo operations.

The details: The funding round was led by Piva Capital and Prelude Ventures.

By the numbers: Pyka has produced seven of its orca-shaped planes for clients.

  • The company counts two large agriculture firms in Latin America as clients, and says it's signed more than $320 million in MOUs and commercial agreements with customers.
  • The company last summer also unveiled an electric passenger aircraft.

What's next: The company is modifying the Pyka aircraft to fly cargo routes within a 200-mile radius — roughly the distance from New York City to Baltimore.

  • To expand U.S. operations, Pyka is seeking a 44807 commercial exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration, Norcia tells Axios. This would allow the transportation secretary to grant a waiver for an unmanned aircraft that would otherwise be too heavy under current federal regulations.
  • The aircraft is currently flying in the U.S. under "Special Airworthiness Certificates," Norcia says. The certificates can be used for experimental aircraft, including unmanned vehicles.
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