A revolution in aerial photography is underway. HyLight, the pioneer of aerial inspection using hydrogen airship drones, today announced a fundraising of 3.7 million euros ($4 million) from VCs and business angels including Y Combinator, Ring Capital, Kima Ventures, Collaborative Fund, and Marc Tarpenning, the co-founder of Tesla, to decarbonise aerial inspection. This deal will enable the French gem of Y Combinator to accelerate the deployment of its airship drones at an industrial scale to offer the first zero-emission solution capable of inspecting any type of infrastructure from the air. Power lines, gas pipelines, railways... Finally, a decarbonized, low-cost and efficient solution for all industries in need of collecting aerial data!

Infrastructure monitoring: a costly and complex necessity

There are 80 million kilometers 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. However, today, infrastructure operators struggle to conduct accurate, large-scale inspections.

As a result, methane leaks from "oil and gas" infrastructure represent 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions and result in annual losses of $7 billion in the European and North American markets. The costs of power outages amount to $18 billion per year in the USA alone[1]. Meanwhile, 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!

HyLight: The first ecological and efficient alternative to drones, helicopters and satellites

To address these challenges, industry professionals have previously had to resort to solutions that were either costly and polluting (helicopters), not precise enough (drone planes and satellites), or lacking in flight autonomy (quadricopter drones). With its hydrogen-powered airship, HyLight drastically reduces inspection costs and enables ultra-precise data to be collected over large areas, all without emitting greenhouse gases (GHGs). Equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell, the HyLighter is a cross between drone and airship technology. Like a drone, it is easy to control and transport. And, like an airship, it is extremely stable and energy-efficient, allowing it to 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. By making flights more efficient, the HyLighter enables the detection of previously uncollected data. Thanks to its cameras and computer systems, the HyLighter is able to transmit data securely, generate detailed reports and draw up control or forecast plans to prevent breakdowns or accidents.

Support and partnerships from renowned entities that validate HyLight's potential

HyLight's integration into Y Combinator, the world's most prestigious startup accelerator, speaks to the soundness and potential of its innovation. The company has also joined the SkyDeck accelerator at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as leading French accelerators such as Wilco, Agoranov, the Propulse programme run by the French Transport Innovation Agency and 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.

3.7 million to get HyLighter off the ground

These €3.7 million will enable HyLight to achieve three crucial milestones. Firstly, it will provide the opportunity to carry out its first large-scale operations. This operational expansion will support the expansion of its network of strategic partnerships, thereby strengthening its market position. Additionally, the funds will give the company the resources to recruit new experts in various fields: aviation regulation, embedded systems, hydrogen systems, mechanical engineering, industrialization and software development. This team will be essential to support the company's growth ambitions and R&D needs, and to strengthen its presence in industry. Lastly, the funds raised will enable HyLight to develop new versions of its airship drones that meet the strictest aeronautical and industrial standards and are approved by competent international authorities. These improved versions will be designed to be even more efficient, safer and easier to produce on a large scale, to meet growing market demand and better serve its customers and partners worldwide.

According to Martin Bocken, CEO of HyLight, "This round of financing is a decisive milestone for HyLight. It allows us to realize our vision of providing large-scale infrastructure inspection in a decarbonized 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".

Myriam Maestroni, President and Founder of e5t, adds, "I am delighted to support HyLight in its ambition to revolutionize aerial inspection with its hydrogen-powered airship. This innovative technology provides a decarbonized 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."

"We are pleased to support HyLight Aero, which, with its airship, contributes to the decarbonization of aerial inspection by improving the detection of faulty components and methane leaks that are responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions," says Gaspard Martin, Investor at the Générations fund powered by EDHEC from Ring Capital.

"We were immediately drawn to HyLight Aero's product and the strong conviction of Thomas, Josef, and Martin. Their airship, which we visited at their site at base 217 in Brétigny, is a very impressive patented innovation, but more importantly, it is an effective ecological alternative that replaces helicopters, which are much more expensive and polluting. We are very proud to participate in the decarbonization of aerial inspection through this investment," says Sibylle Behaghel, Investor at the Générations fund powered by EDHEC from Ring Capital.

In the near future, the HyLighter will be useful in other sectors as well. It will be able to observe hundreds of hectares of European forests and help understand the new diseases affecting them. It will analyze changes in sea level by effectively observing the coastline. It will help understand the growing water stress affecting our farmland, so that we can target our efforts in the right places. The HyLighter will enable us to better observe and understand the world in the light of climate change.