Hyundai investing in U.S. drone company

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Hyundai investing in U.S. drone company


Employee at U.S.-based drone company Top Flight Technologies test a hybrid drone with a gasoline engine. [HYUNDAI MOTOR]

Hyundai Motor, Korea’s largest carmaker by sales, said Thursday it has invested in a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) company to jointly develop new products.

In the investment, Hyundai Motor and Top Flight Technologies will jointly seek business opportunities in the global high-end aerial drone market, the company said in a statement.

“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,” John Suh, vice president of Hyundai CRADLE in Silicon Valley, said in the statement.

Hyundai CRADLE is Hyundai Motor’s corporate venture and open innovation business in the United States.

“Hyundai’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,” Top Flight Chief Executive Long Phan said in the statement.

The U.S. start-up is unrivaled in the fields of cutting-edge unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with small-sized gasoline engines that can extend flight range by charging a battery, it said. Hyundai didn’t provide how much it has invested in the U.S. start-up.

The global UAV market is expected to grow from $5.6 billion in 2016 to $12.2 billion in 2019 and to $22.1 billion in 2026, the statement said. As UAVs are mainly used for military purposes, there is big growth potential for the commercial drone market. At present, the drone delivery services market is in the early stages of development. The concept of drone delivery services began with Amazon in December 2013. The U.S. retailer said its drone service is designed to deliver packages to customers as quickly as possible using UAVs.

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