HyLight Raises USD4 Million “to Decarbonise Aerial Inspection with Hydrogen-Powered Airship”

The days of the calami­tous Hin­den­burg dis­as­ter is buried and for­got­ten as a new rev­o­lu­tion of air­ships focus on the clean, green move­ment of atmos­pher­ic decar­bon­i­sa­tion.

The lat­est in a grow­ing ros­ter of hope­fuls is France-based com­pa­ny, HyLight, who announced this week a USD4 mil­lion invest­ment for devel­op­ment of its hydro­gen-pow­ered air­ship, The HyLighter.

Mar­ket­ed as “a pio­neer of aer­i­al inspec­tion,” the com­pa­ny claims there is “a rev­o­lu­tion in aer­i­al pho­tog­ra­phy under­way.” Its new investors range from Y Com­bi­na­tor, Ring Cap­i­tal and Kima Ven­tures to Marc Tarpen­ning, the co-Founder of Tes­la.

This deal enables HyLight to accel­er­ate the deploy­ment of its air­ship “on an indus­tri­al scale” to offer “the first zero-emis­sion solu­tion” capa­ble of inspect­ing any type of infra­struc­ture from the air includ­ing pow­er lines, gas pipelines and rail­way tracks.

Mar­tin Bock­en, CEO of HyLight, remarked, “This round of financ­ing is a deci­sive mile­stone. It allows us to realise our vision of pro­vid­ing large-scale infra­struc­ture inspec­tion in a decar­bonised and high­ly pre­cise man­ner. With the sup­port of our investors, we are ready to rede­fine the stan­dards of indus­tri­al inspec­tion and meet grow­ing envi­ron­men­tal and reg­u­la­to­ry require­ments”.

Mar­tin Bock­en

An obvi­ous ques­tion: Sure­ly, drones can do the same job, more eas­i­ly, faster and at less cost? And drones are “decar­bonised” too.

Mean­while, HyLight points out in its press release that infra­struc­ture mon­i­tor­ing “is a cost­ly and com­plex mat­ter.” It states, “There are 80 mil­lion kilo­me­tres of ener­gy infra­struc­ture on our plan­et. That is 200 times the dis­tance between the Earth and the Moon. These pow­er lines and pipelines are crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture for the prop­er func­tion­ing of soci­eties. There­fore, they must be inspect­ed at reg­u­lar inter­vals (some­times sev­er­al times per month) to ensure their good con­di­tion and pre­vent fail­ures.” Adding, “How­ev­er, today, infra­struc­ture oper­a­tors strug­gle to con­duct accu­rate, large-scale inspec­tions.”

“As a result,” the release con­tin­ues, “methane leaks from oil and gas infra­struc­ture rep­re­sent 4 per­cent of glob­al green­house gas emis­sions and result in annu­al loss­es of USD7 bil­lion in the Euro­pean and North Amer­i­can mar­kets. The costs of pow­er out­ages amount to USD18 bil­lion per year in the USA alone.” It then points out, “How­ev­er, the reg­u­la­to­ry frame­work is tight­en­ing, requir­ing oper­a­tors to accel­er­ate inspec­tions. But effec­tive­ly iden­ti­fy­ing small faults in such large areas is like look­ing for a nee­dle in a haystack!”

The com­pa­ny reck­ons the air­ship can dras­ti­cal­ly reduce inspec­tion costs and enables ultra-pre­cise data to be col­lect­ed over large areas, all with­out emit­ting green­house gas­es. 

Describ­ing its craft as “a cross between a drone and air­ship”, it is easy to con­trol and trans­port and, can fly for up to 10 hours, over a dis­tance of 350 km. Its flight speed of 35 km/h, HD cam­eras and sen­sors (LIDAR, ther­mal, infrared, etc.) ensure opti­mal pre­ci­sion for any type of mis­sion. 

Apart from a longer flight dura­tion, very sim­i­lar to a drone… then.

The com­pa­ny piles on the mar­ket­ing-speak, say­ing it has recent­ly joined the Sky­Deck accel­er­a­tor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, as well as lead­ing French accel­er­a­tors such as Wilco, Ago­ra­nov, the Propulse pro­gram run by the French Trans­port Inno­va­tion Agency and the EDHEC net­work via Généra­tions, the seed fund of Ring Cap­i­tal and EDHEC. 

HyLight also ben­e­fits from the sup­port of high-lev­el men­tors and investors such as Tes­la co-founder Marc Tarpen­ning and the for­mer SpaceX launch direc­tor, Abhishek Tri­pathi. Fur­ther­more, the start-up has imple­ment­ed a project with Enedis, Europe’s largest pow­er line oper­a­tor. HyLight is also a France 2030 win­ner, sup­port­ed by the IDF region.

The USD4 mil­lion invest­ment enables the com­pa­ny to achieve three cru­cial mile­stones. 

: To car­ry out its first large-scale oper­a­tions. 

: Offer resources to recruit new experts in var­i­ous fields includ­ing avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tion, embed­ded sys­tems, hydro­gen sys­tems, mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing, indus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and soft­ware devel­op­ment.

: To devel­op new improved ver­sions of its air­ship, mak­ing it even safer, more effi­cient and eas­i­er to pro­duce on a large scale.

Myr­i­am Mae­stroni, Pres­i­dent and Founder of e5t, one of HyLight’s new investors, remarked, “This inno­v­a­tive tech­nol­o­gy pro­vides a decar­bonised and effi­cient solu­tion to meet the grow­ing needs of the ener­gy, trans­porta­tion and infra­struc­ture sec­tors. We are con­fi­dent that HyLight is well posi­tioned to become a glob­al leader in this rapid­ly expand­ing field.”

The com­pa­ny also hopes its air­ship can be deployed in oth­er sec­tors includ­ing forestry, changes in sea lev­el and water stress effect­ing farm­land. In a nut­shell, help observe and under­stand cli­mate change.

For more infor­ma­tion


(Images: HyLight)

For the lat­est news, insights and con­tent regard­ing the glob­al Advanced Air Mobil­i­ty mar­ket, please join the fol­low­ing eVTOL Insights chan­nels: What­sAppFace­book, Insta­gramSpo­ti­fyApple Pod­castsYouTubeand LinkedIn.

eVTOL Insights is part of the Industry Insights Group. Registered in the UK. Company No: 14395769