South Korean carmaker Hyundai is joining forces with Boston drone startup Top Flight in a bid capture a piece of the growing drone market.
The deal inked with Top Flight is part of a plan that the carmaker hopes will see it broaden its horizons in the space of future mobility.
With the global drone market predicted to encompass a $22.1 billion economy by 2026, Hyundai is playing a hand that is well placed to achieve this goal.
Top Flight stands out in the drone field due to its hybrid electric unmanned aerial vehicle design, which allows it a longer flight than most pure electric drones.
With Top Flight, Hyundai wants to “explore ways to accelerate the commercial application and deployment of UAVs across various sectors and markets”.
Top Flight’s drones, which can fly for up to two hours at a time using the dronemaker’s Top Flight™ Micro Generator Hybrid Power System , offer a multitude of possibilities due to their ability to carry payloads of up to 4 kilograms.
The carmaker sees the potential in Top Flight’s drones to allow it to horizontally expand into a variety of industries including cargo, inspection of pipelines and other infrastructure and construction sites, while Top Flight will be able to take advantage of Hyundai’s extensive experience in mass-market assembly and automated production.
“Hyundai Motor Company’s investment in Top Flight confirms its commitment to autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions, whether on the road or in the air. We fully believe that Hyundai’s world-class assembly and automation capabilities will help spur the production and deployment of aerospace-grade UAVs, more efficiently than ever,” says Top Flight Technologies chief Dr. Long Phan.
Hyundai is not only interested in Top Flight’s ‘3D Real-time Simulation Environment & Fleet Management System’ and ‘Remote Location Operation Console’ which allow for development of tools and control of multiple drones at once, but also the possibility of mapping capabilities.
“In addition to solving the challenges of longer-duration flight for quadcopters, Top Flight is developing the technologies needed to enable new solutions in aerial logistics and mapping which could be useful in Hyundai’s future business. Hyundai Motor continues to invest in companies that develop disruptive technologies that are in-line with Hyundai’s current and future strategic thinking,” says John Suh, Vice President of Hyundai CRADLE at Hyundai.
The deal with Top Flight will certainly open up a plethora of possibilities for Hyundai, although it will be interesting to see if the decision to partner with a drone startup that is continuing to develop fossil fuel technologies when many carmakers – including Hyundai – are shifting inexorably towards electric mobility, plays out well.