Loft Dynamics, a Swiss startup creating virtual reality (VR) simulation technology for helicopter pilots, has raised $20 million in funding from U.S. venture capital (VC) firms including David Sacks’ Craft Ventures, Sky Dayton, and Up Ventures.
Alongside the funding, the company is also formally announcing its name-change from VRM Switzerland.
Founded out of Zurich in 2016, Loft Dynamics has developed a slew of simulators for some of the most common helicopters, including the single turbine Airbus H125. Through this, budding pilots can engage in realistic training scenarios including night-time flying and carryi out proficiency checks, with force-feedback to simulate system failures and other issues.
On top of that, pilots can also now receive training credits for time spent in a simulator, after the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) authorized Loft Dynamics’ Airbus H125 flight training device back in May.
The company says that its platform goes some way toward addressing the global pilot shortage, a problem exacerbated by the pandemic as pilots elected to go for early retirement or switch careers, as it opens up more training opportunities and reduces many of the costs involved in going out in a real helicopter.
Moreover, Loft Dynamics says that because its simulators are around one-tenth of the size of traditional simulators, they are easier to deploy at scale without requiring purpose-built facilities.
Other companies are using VR simulation to tackle similar workforce shortage problems or otherwise enhance existing training programs. VRAI, for example, is developing technology to support training for the offshore wind industry, while FundamentalVR recently raised $20 million to help train surgeons through VR.
With another $20 million in the bank and a new name, Loft Dynamics is now well-positioned to expand outside of Europe and into the lucrative U.S. market.
“After many years in development, we are ready to expand Loft Dynamics to become a global company and bring our technology and training solutions to the world,” Loft Dynamics’ cofounder and CEO Fabi Riesen said in a press release. “This funding comes at exactly the right moment as we will be able to meet the escalating demand for flight schools and accelerate the range of aircraft types we support.”