Hyundai makes strategic investment in American UAV startup Top Flight

By Lim Chang-won Posted : November 15, 2018, 10:36 Updated : November 15, 2018, 10:36

[Courtesy of Hyundai Motor]

SEOUL -- Hyundai Motor, a top South Korean carmaker, made a strategic investment in Top Flight Technologies, an American startup in hybrid-electric unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technologies, to cultivate new business opportunities in logistics and other areas. 

Financial terms of the investment made through Hyundai CRADLE, a corporate venturing and open innovation business wing, were not disclosed. Hyundai will team up with the Boston-based startup to explore ways to accelerate the commercial application and deployment of UAVs across various sectors and markets.

"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 CRADLE's vice president John Suh said in a statement.

The two companies will jointly cultivate new business opportunities around UAVs in areas such as cargo transport, inspection services and surveillance missions for industrial sites.

Top Flight's system is instrumental in developing optimized solutions for UAV-centered business models, the statement said, adding Hyundai seeks to enhance its existing operations with the application of drone products and technologies, particularly high-definition mapping and operations and management services.

"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 CEO Long Phan was quoted as saying.

The partnership reflects Hyundai's efforts to develop innovative mobility services. In April last year, Hyundai's branch in Britain unveiled Click to Fly, an experimental car delivery service by drone. Hyundai used its fuel cell technology to develop delivery drones that could carry loads of just over 2,000 kilograms.

To develop next-generation technologies, Hyundai has forged a series of strategic partnerships with foreign technology firms. Hyundai agreed with Chinese technology giant Baidu in July to jointly develop connected car technologies, an upgraded voice recognition system and an AI robot for connectivity.

In October, Hyundai CRADLE made a strategic investment into Perceptive Automata, a U.S. startup which develops software for self-driving cars to read the intentions and awareness of pedestrians and other people on the road.
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