Hyundai partners with American company to speed UAS development

By Patrick C. Miller | November 20, 2018

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. is partnering with Boston-based Top Flight Technologies Inc. to accelerate the deployment of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for commercial applications.

The partnership is intended to cultivate new business opportunities around UAS using Top Flight’s patented hybrid-electric power system for extended flight times and to carry heavier payloads for commercial use, including cargo transport, inspection services and surveillance missions.

“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,” said Long Phan, Top Flight CEO. “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."

Drones powered by the Top Flight micro generator hybrid power system can stay airborne for up to two hours while carrying a load of nearly nine pounds. Top Flight offers an array of scalable unmanned aircraft solutions, including a 3D real-time simulation environment and fleet management system. It also provides product development tools and a remote location operation console that enables simultaneous operation of multiple drones.

Hyundai plans to enhance its operations with the application of drone products and technologies―particularly high-definition mapping, operations and management services. 

"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,” said John Suh, vice president of the Hyundai Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences (CRADLE). “Hyundai Motor continues to invest in companies that develop disruptive technologies that are in-line with Hyundai’s current and future strategic thinking.”

Hyundai said its partnership with Top Flight is an example of the company’s efforts to advance its open innovation strategy, which aims to drive innovation to enhance the company’s foothold in the future mobility market. This includes such technologies as autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and ride-sharing. Hyundai plans to build a network of industry leaders to enhance people’s lives through the development of innovative mobility services.

Founded in 2014, Top Flight Technologies specializes in hybrid-electric power systems and fully autonomous technologies for unmanned aircraft. The company said it has numerous partners across aerospace, transportation, agriculture and other industries.