Whisper emerges from stealth with $32m Series A investment


Whisper's 55lbs demo drone in flight. (credit: Whisper Aero)

Whisper Aero, a startup developing electric ducted fans, has emerged from stealth mode with a $32m Series A investment.

The investment, led by a syndicate including Menlo Ventures and EVE Atlas, will help to expand the team and establish production — aimed initially at the US market. With a vision to “lead the electric jet age” Whisper aims to scale the tech up and down for multiple aerospace applications.

It’s starting with propulsors for drones that may fly as early as this year for the US DoD. As they continue to develop, the team even see their tech integrated into commercial aircraft and consumer leaf blowers. To date Whisper has validated its findings through six US DoD contracts and agreements worth $2.2m.

Each component has been considered with ultra low noise and efficiency from the beginning, according to the firm. Development has lead to numerous layers of intellectual property across the propulsor over nine generations of design and tests.

 “Most companies only think about designing for low noise by reducing disk loading and tip speed with a willingness to sacrifice efficiency. We never accepted this premise,” said CEO Mark Moore. “Truly designing for low noise means examining all of the sources of noise critically and then tailoring each source’s acoustical content to the way that humans hear so that it can blend in seamlessly into the soundscapes of our everyday lives.”

Some tones Whisper are able to move into the ultrasonic, therefore past the realm of human hearing. The technologies integrated across the propulsor also not only allow for ultra low noise, but more than 20% improvements in efficiency, said Whisper. The team has validated that it can fly a 55lbs drone with at approx 200ft and not hear the drone on the ground as it flies over in level, sustained thrust.

CEO Moore and chief operating officer Ian Villa have assembled a team with experience from the likes of Joby, Kitty Hawk and Rolls-Royce. The team’s chief engineer is Devon Jedamski, a former propulsion and air vehicle engineer at Northrop Grumman Advanced Design, Rolls Royce, and the MIT Gas Turbine Lab.

From napkin sketch to flying demonstrator in eight months, Whisper started with a 10lbs demonstrator propulsor statically tested and flown on a 55lbs drone. As noted, the team hope to begin flying for the US DoD later this year, taking a first step in a very small part of a growing but still infant electric aviation industry.