Combating Wildfire Activity
Voxelis is tackling climate change through innovative solutions in aerial wildfire suppression. The Richmond startup is focused on transforming the current approach to this critical task by developing both the necessary hardware and software to convert civil helicopters into Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) helitankers. By doing so, Voxelis aims to address pressing challenges in the helicopter industry and civil aerial wildfire fleet.
The company recognizes the escalating global wildfire activity and the associated environmental impact, including significant carbon emissions and the destruction of carbon sink forest areas. Additionally, there is a shortage of skilled pilots, who play a crucial role in wildfire response using helicopters. Voxelis aims to overcome these challenges by improving the effectiveness of existing resources and transitioning the aerial fire suppression fleet to UAVs capable of operating at night and autonomously — eliminating the need for a pilot. This advancement promises to significantly enhance our capacity to combat wildfires and mitigate their devastating effects.
A Breakthrough Solution
Voxelis originated as an internal R&D project within Taeron Systems Inc., a specialized engineering and manufacturing company in the helicopter industry. The project gained momentum and eventually spun out as a startup with a sole focus on revolutionizing aerial wildfire suppression.
To kickstart their journey, they secured funding through IRAP to develop their innovative navigation software that’s specifically designed for payload-carrying UAVs. This groundbreaking software allows full-scale UAV helitankers to navigate their surroundings autonomously, utilizing a decision-making process similar to that of a human pilot.
By incorporating the expertise and skills acquired from human pilots, Voxelis’ navigation software enables large payload-carrying UAVs to operate economically in complex and dynamic environments. This breakthrough ensures that their UAV helicopters not only match, but surpass the economic utility of current human-piloted helicopters.
From Interning to Raising Capital
Colin O’Neill, CEO of Voxelis, began his journey in aviation by assisting an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer at a helicopter hangar during his first (unpaid) job. The hands-on experience and knowledge he gained from this early role built his passion for the industry and have proven to be instrumental in his current position.
Now, O’Neill leads an aviation cleantech startup that’s actively seeking capital. As a team experienced in efficient business operations, they recognize the need for additional resources and a larger team to accelerate the transition from prototypes to a minimum viable product (MVP).
Participating in the NVBC Competition presents an opportunity for Voxelis to familiarize themselves with the process of securing funding through angel investors and venture capitalists. The competition also serves as a unique platform to showcase their innovation and business potential, ultimately helping them attract the necessary capital.
About the founders
Colin O’Neill, CEO & Co-Founder
Fun Fact: Colin could fly an aircraft before he could drive a car.
Paul Allard, P.Eng., Hardware Engineering and Co-Founder
Fun Fact: Paul once landed on an iceberg in a helicopter.
Kaan Williams: Electronics & Software Engineering and Co-Founder
Sector: Aerospace & Defence