NEW YORK, NY, Jan. 26, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- via NewMediaWire -- ILUS International Inc (OTC: ILUS) is a Mergers and Acquisitions company focused on acquiring and developing public safety technology-based companies across the globe. Having completed 4 acquisitions in 2021, ILUS has been in the process of completing several further acquisitions in January 2022. The company has agreed to acquire Vira Drones, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) company based in Germany and Switzerland. Vira Drones develops and manufactures UAVs or Industrial Drones. This technology is a world first in that it delivers the unmanned capability of light helicopters, with competitors of the acquisition achieving pre-production valuations of over $1.2 billion.
Vira Drones currently creates industrial heavy drones (UAVs) for rescue and logistics. Through the company’s proprietary technology, its UAVs can carry loads of up to 1000kg for as long as two hours, making these UAVs a viable unmanned alternative to light helicopters and free of their limitations. Vira Drones’ mission is to save more lives and access hard-to-reach locations more efficiently and cost effectively. The company is on track to become the world’s leading cargo and rescue drone manufacturer and plans to capture a significant share of the light helicopter market in the process.
The global light helicopter market is currently valued at $13 billion per annum. Within this, the market for light helicopters used for logistics and rescue is estimated to be between $2 and $3 billion. Vira Drones anticipates that at least 20% and up to 50% of these light helicopters can be replaced by industrial drones. It is expected that the market for UAVs will grow to $1.5 trillion by 2040. To say that Vira Drones has a bright future ahead is a substantial understatement. Airbus is planning to build 3 unicorn-sized scaleups per year and Boeing recently invested $450 million in the “flying taxi” company, Wisk. Eve Urban Air Mobility also recently confirmed it is going public via a SPAC merger with Zanite Acquisition Corp. after obtaining a pre-money valuation of around $2.4 billion. These examples illustrate the UAV industry potential, with Vira Drones already having received extensive interest from global aviation juggernauts and prominent international organisations.
The two major competitors of Vira Drones in the logistics sector have already achieved valuations of $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion respectively. Neither of these competitors have an offering for the rescue sector and currently, they do not have certifications or technology in commercial production for their existing technology. Vira Drones has already created and tested 3 prototypes and has applied for several patents. ILUS has acquired Vira Drones with the goal of integrating its technology into ILUS’ existing and planned emergency response solutions as well as with that of upcoming ILUS acquisitions. The company will prioritize the registering of a further 10 patents and the obtaining of 3 type approval certificates before focusing on the aviation certification. This will enable Vira Drones’ UAVs to fly commercially in inhabited areas. Vira Drones is currently registering a patent for its revolutionary 3D access airflow system for each rotor which ensures constant horizontal stabilization during flight. Horizontal stability is critical for logistics and rescue applications, and it is one of the many key differentiators between Vira Drones and its competitors. The company has also developed and successfully tested the world’s first “scalable body” which enables 3 drones to be connected to each other to form a flying train. This will increase capacity and reduce certification costs whilst providing a more cost effective, modular solution for customers.
Vira Drones started its life by developing a fire and rescue drone which was designed to rescue victims from high-rise buildings in the event of fires or other tragic events like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, where people cannot get rescued with helicopters due to the rotors. The first fire and rescue drone prototypes were developed for this project and the company continued onwards from there to develop surveillance drones for fire prevention, monitoring and rescue applications. The company’s specialist drone engine and rotor technology which enables the drones to fly in most weather conditions and achieve up to four hours of flight time, has been combined with smart cameras and artificial intelligence software. Prior to the agreed acquisition of Vira Drones, ILUS had been working with the company to develop this into a practical solution for fire and rescue, whereby the drones could be used for early detection of fires and carry onboard fire extinguishing capability that could be deployed in the early stages of fires – to extinguish them before they develop further. Early detection is critical to the control of wildfires which can often smoulder for days or even weeks before igniting. The firefighting industry is urgently seeking a solution which can detect and combat a potential wildfire before it develops. Cost-effective unmanned surveillance combined with IoT technology will play a vital role in the fighting of wildfires in the future. The ILUS strategy has long been to be utilise IoT, combined with ground-breaking engineering to provide real-world solutions for emergency response. The agreed acquisition of Vira Drones is a giant leap forward for ILUS in this regard. ILUS will be energetically pushing forward with the fire and rescue product development at Vira Drones and has several potential customers lined up to commence testing of the technology.
Following the original development of the fire and rescue drone prototypes, Vira Drones began the development of its drones for the logistics sector. This was driven by the need for the UAVs to deliver humanitarian aid in war and disaster zones. The company has now created prototypes which are in the process of being air tested and it has also developed 3 types of innovative engines. The system has been autopilot tested and the company is now working to finish further improved prototypes while thorough testing continues, to meet aviation specifications and standards. Vira Drones already has customers such as the World Food Programme lined up to test its UAVs for the delivery of supplies in several African countries. In addition to the transport of supplies to drought or flood ravaged regions and other disaster zones, the UAVs will also play a vital role in rescue operations. Vira Drones has partnered with distributors such as Agility Prime, Senator International and Hevilift to name a few. In the logistics sector, ILUS has initial plans to commence sales to helicopter and drone companies for leasing. It then plans to launch a subscription service for cargo delivery (by number of flying hours). This business model is well suited to the logistics sector and there is already significant interest from the oil and gas industry for the delivery of supplies to oil rigs. Once ILUS has successfully completed the development, testing and certification of its emergency response drone solutions, which will include its fire and rescue drones, it plans to offer them to the market via similar leasing and subscription services. This will make them more accessible to the emergency response industry whilst providing ongoing recurring revenue for Vira Drones.
The Vira Drones product range currently consists of the Vira M250, M500 and M750 which have a payload of 250kg, 500kg and 750kg respectively. The Vira M250 has a flight time of up to 4 hours. The Vira M1000 is currently in testing and will be able to transport 1000kg for a flight time of up to 2 hours. Maximum speeds for the UAVs range from 125 to 150 km/h.
There are several significant disadvantages of light helicopters which strengthen the value proposition of the Vira Drones technology. Some of the disadvantages include high purchase, operation and maintenance costs, the requirement for highly skilled pilots, limited mobility in urban environments, geometric dimensions of the loading area, geometric limitations when maneuvering, dependance on weather conditions, the need to change angles when operating (cannot remain horizontal), increased difficulty of load centering and increased noise pollution. The average purchase cost of a light helicopter is 10 times that of a Vira UAV whilst the operating costs are approximately 15 times more. The company has also developed technology for the control of multiple drones from a centralized point, further reducing cost and increasing the capability of the technology.
Vira Drones will continue to be managed by the two company founders, Valeriy Gorshkov and Igor Maslov, who respectively will remain CEO and CTO of the company. They will continue to be supported by their core team which includes a Lead Engine Designer, Head of Artificial Intelligence, and a Business Development Specialist. ILUS will focus initially on the patents, certifications, and the sales and marketing aspects of the business. The current management’s focus has been on the research and development of the technology and although there is enormous interest in the company’s technology, ILUS is already working on the improvement of the company’s branding, its website, technical documentation, and aggressive business development strategy, to name a few.
Given the trailblazing technology and mammoth potential gained through the acquisition of Vira Drones, ILUS has extraordinary plans for the company. ILUS believes that Vira Drones will transform the emergency response and logistics industry and its valuation should skyrocket as patents and certifications are awarded. ILUS believes that this and similar upcoming acquisitions will catapult its up-listing plans. The company will incorporate aspects of Vira Drones’ fire and rescue technology into its Emergency Response Technologies (ERT) business, whilst it will further develop the commercial drone business for logistics and transportation under a Vira Drones subsidiary within ILUS. The company is planning a third defense division which will transport supplies and equipment for the military, especially in volatile locations. There is already peaked interest in this capability. This third division is more than likely going to sit within a new subsidiary which ILUS management is currently working on and will expand on further at the company’s Annual Shareholder’s Meeting.
ILUS Managing Director, John-Paul Backwell, commented: “This acquisition has been going on behind the scenes for some time and is very exciting for the company to have completed. It is one of several exciting deals that we have been working on in-line with the technology advancement strategy which we have been communicating to our Shareholders for some time now.”
Nick Link, CEO of ILUS, added: “This is a massive leap forward for ILUS. The valuation of this acquisition is mind blowing and it will play an important role in accelerating many of our upcoming plans. We look forward to unveiling our more detailed roadmap for Vira Drones and how it fits into the bigger ILUS picture along with the similar deals which we will announce soon.”
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