In classic startup-fashion, Pyka was started in Michael's parents' garage. The garage was not large enough to fit Pyka's proof of concept vehicle, "Big Bird," so the company moved to the backyard, where they maintained a decidedly laid back 'shoes optional' corporate culture.
Pyka was accepted into Y Combinator's summer 2017 batch. Over the course of three months, the team of five designed, built, and flew Big Bird, a bespoke 400lb UAV.
Big Bird completed its first fully autonomous mission (takeoff through landing) running the first Pyka Flight Engine two weeks before Y Combinator's Demo Day. It flew beautifully!
After raising a $3m round out of Y Combinator, the team set about designing and building its first product, the "Egret," which was a 200lb payload 100% autonomous electric crop duster.
Pyka certified the Egret for commercial operation in collaboration with the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority in mid-2019, marking the first-ever human-scale autonomous electric aircraft certified for commercial work.
Pyka raised an $8m Seed+ round in late 2019.
Four months after raising their Seed+, Pyka flew its second generation electric autonomous ag airplane, the "Pelican." The new aircraft incorporated dozens of design and feature improvements and carried over 3x the liquid payload of its predecessor.
Pyka started serial production of the Pelican in late 2020, after completing structural load testing and flight testing programs. Most of the aircraft is manufactured at our facility in Oakland, California.
Pelican SN3 was delivered to one of two major launch customers in Costa Rica where the aircraft would soon go to work spraying Bananas.
The Pelican successfully completed the final stage of flight demonstration for commercial approval in the US.
Pelican took to the skies for the first autonomous fixed wing aerial application on a banana crop in human history!