Aerial mobility firm H3 Dynamics has closed a US$26 million Series B funding to accelerate its global mission to decarbonise air mobility. The round was led by Japan’s Mirai Creation Fund, which is managed by SPARX Asset Management on behalf of Toyota Motor Corporation and the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. Other investors include the venture arm of ACA investors, Capital Management Group, the Grosvenor Group, Audacy Ventures, Ascent Hydrogen Fund, and French strategic investors ATEQ.
“We are delighted to welcome such an experienced and supportive group of investors as we embark on the next stage of our journey,” said Taras Wankewycz, founder and CEO of H3 Dynamics. “Our investors share our big-impact vision, and how we get there safely. They recognise that this is a long journey, and that we must first address our immediate markets while solving key technical and regulatory challenges – before adding more complexity.”
David Wu, President at Ascent Hydrogen Fund commented: “Air mobility is one of the hardest, yet most important industries to decarbonise. H3 Dynamics is ideally placed to overcome this challenge. It is already generating revenue with a clear path to profit using a scalable software-as-a-Service model, while also benefiting from two decades of ultra-light hydrogen fuel cell system development. Thanks to its unique approach and its strong ecosystem across industries and geographies, we believe H3 Dynamics is best positioned to scale its solutions and outgrow the market.”
Having pioneered hydrogen-powered flight as early as 2006 with the likes of NASA, DLR, and dozens of research programs globally, today Taras is working to bring longer range and flight-duration hydrogen electric propulsion alternatives to the nascent battery-electric aviation market. While this research continued over the years, H3 Dynamics was formed in 2015 to start building an autonomous charging infrastructure for battery drones and a range of maintenance and monitoring services to which it can connect. Once established, this same infrastructure could then support much longer-range, unmanned systems, capable of flying for hours using hydrogen technology – opening up autonomous, zero-emissions cargo as a next step.
Cognizant of the extreme safety certifications and regulatory barriers that define the aviation industry, Taras is convinced that hydrogen technology will not fly any passengers commercially for the next 10 years at least. “Before carrying people, we will carry freight, and before carrying tons, we will carry kilos. Commercialisation will start with unmanned platforms first”.
H3 Dynamics therefore has a three-phase roadmap that helps solve fundamental challenges each step of the way, while generating revenue from day one.
The first phase focuses on supplying autonomous inspection and incident response solutions powered by drones. H3 Dynamics has built and commercialised a proprietary, all-digital inspection and rectification automation software, starting with smart-city applications such as high-rise façade maintenance. After starting in Singapore three years ago, it now dominates the South East Asian market, expanding its services globally and across industries.
The volume of tall buildings in some Asian cities is such that automation has quickly become a requirement to supplement expert drone pilots. Therefore, H3 Dynamics is about to release the world’s most advanced autonomous drone nesting station – designed to help fill the gaps. These cloud-connected vertiports for industrial drones can send data through 5G, become visible in real time in the national airspace, with permanent set-ups on rooftops or on remote industrial sites.
To cater for airspace management, H3 Dynamics has partnered with air traffic control world-leader THALES to build an autonomous urban air mobility infrastructure, starting with tiny camera drones, but with a view to evolve towards larger, unmanned cargo. With hydrogen enabling cargo flights of up to 400km or even 800km as a next step – real-time airspace integration will be a minimum requirement.
With the closing of its Series B, H3 Dynamics is entering the second phase of its three-phase roadmap. The Company will expand its first-phase revenue streams to ensure an optimal path to profit, and it will build on this first success to introduce longer-range hydrogen-powered aircraft that can carry more and more weight in the mid-mile, beyond visual line of sight parcel and cargo operations sector. In its final, third phase, having gathered more real-world experience, the Company plans to shift from unmanned cargo to manned hydrogen aircraft including passengers.
The company intends to expand its engineering and sales teams in Austin/Texas, where it currently produces and ships complete hydrogen drones, integrated aerial fuel cell propulsion and refuelling units, and Toulouse/France, where it develops larger hydrogen systems, works on hydrogen aircraft integration, and carries out test flights.