South Korean developer of hydrogen power units for drones, Doosan Mobility Innovation (DMI), has raised $22 million in new funding to muscle up its production of longer-flying, emission-free water-based fuel cells for drones.
DMI announced the new investment Tuesday, saying that while the infusion will support its continuing development of hydrogen power generally, it will be particularly focused on fuel cells for cargo drones used by logistics clients. In addition to being cleaner than gas-burning options and less polluting to break down than spent lithium-ion batteries, hydrogen tech powers UAV flights nearly four times longer – and boasts longer total life span – than chemical cells.
DMI said the funds will permit it to muscle up its existing product lineup, enhance overseas sales capacities, attract top R&D talent, and speed development of water-cooled fuel cells applicable to wide range of drone transportation, particularly logistics. As part of its focus into the latter use-case, DMI is developing cargo UAVs with 10 to 50 kg. payloads, which it hopes to bring to market after 2025.
The greater power reserves of hydrogen power cells allow drones to perform missions of over two hours, enhancing the efficiency of applications like security surveillance, emergency rescue support, asset and property patrols and surveys, and logistics operations over both land and water. The new infusion from DG Capital, Korea Investment Partners and DS Asset Management, DMI says, will help strengthen performance in those areas, and permit expansion into additional uses.
“We were able to attract investments since ultra-light fuel cell market for mobility has been recognized for its future value and growth potential,” DMI CEO Lee Doo-soon said. “DMI plans to expand its product lineup, diversify mobility business using fuel cell by actively entering overseas market, and become the leader in the industrial drone industry.”
The successful fund raising is the latest development in what has been a fairly busy past 12 months for the company. In addition to industrial partnerships it has struck up with both private companies and military units over the last year, DMI inked a deal with Southern California utility SoCalGas to operate hydrogen-powered drones for continual monitoring and inspection of its vast system of pipelines.
In its work closer to home, DMI has been an active member UAM Team Korea, the public-private organization planning for the expected introduction of drone air taxi services in 2025, some of which may fly using water-cooling hydrogen fuel systems.