We just launched our Portugal Chapter. Discover more Portuguese startups here!X
PITCH
Drone Hopper’s award-winning heavy-duty (300-liter), autonomous drones can adapt to operate in different conditions including nighttime, bringing safety, flexibility and efficiency to firefighting and farming.
WHY?

More destructive megafires

Wildfires are increasingly common worldwide because of climate change, threatening lives and acres of land.

Expensive, dangerous firefighting

High costs in operating, maintaining and training for current systems using human-piloted airplanes and helicopters.

Limited reach

Night operations or remote, difficult-to-reach locations are especially risky, endangering firefighters’ lives.

MARKET

US$11 billion

Size of global drone market by 2020, forecasts Gartner

In 2017, global spending on drones reached US$6.49 billion, with nearly 3 million drones manufactured.

PRODUCT
High capacity firefighting commercial multirotor drones (up to 300 liters), with a double hexacopter configuration prepared for loading and discharge. They can spray water with pressure along the fire front (50 meters length) to create a firebreak line that stops fire expansion. Easy to reload. Dimensions 120 cm by 30

Read more

High capacity firefighting commercial multirotor drones (up to 300 liters), with a double hexacopter configuration prepared for loading and discharge. They can spray water with pressure along the fire front (50 meters length) to create a firebreak line that stops fire expansion. Easy to reload. Dimensions 120 cm by 30 cm.
BUSINESS MODEL
B2B model, using patented magnetic system adapted for firefighting and the agricultural industry including pesticide spraying, irrigation and fertilization. Although the market launch was delayed to 2019, it entered the commercial market with a project funded by CDTI with industrial partner Castraft in India and academic partner LSI-UC3M in Spain.

Read more

Drone Hopper is targeting the commercial drones market that amounts to only 6 % of the global drones civil market. Due to the drone’s similar product characteristics of small planes for permits and certifications, the drone prices will be lower than those of small planes. They will be the expensive drones in the higher end of the market.

Since 2016, the startup has been competing and participating in major startups and drone events, exhibiting its prototypes in different countries including USA, Israel, Chile, France, UAE, Portugal and Spain.

 This strategy has helped Drone Hopper to reach out to investors, technology partners and future clients. The latest cooperation project, a new prototype Urban Hopper designed for urban fires, has brought in new funding to enable more work to be done on the thermal engines for all the prototypes. It has also been a big step toward a market launch.

 Besides other pending resolution projects, Drone Hopper will also focus on building a mid-size prototype (150 or 300 liters) and the design and launch of the 150-liter Urban Hopper platform.

TIMELINE

  • Launch
  • Growth
  • Recent Developments
  • Future Plans
  • 2015 - Drone Hopper SL was created to develop big capacity autonomous drones, similar to small planes or helicopters.

    Read in detail:

    The launch

    4Q, launched Drone Hopper SL that owns the patent for a magnetic system that directs a flow of nebulized water and high speed air directly to the seat of fire.

    Policy changes

    Challenges faced included a lack of drone regulation in Spain and the EU and the ban on autonomous navigation of drones.

  • 2016 - Development of the firefighting drone prototype Wild Hopper (300 liters), after an initial 5-liter prototype; started design of Agro Hopper prototype (80 liters).

    Read in detail:

    Products and services

    1H, created firefighting Wild Hopper prototype.

    • Able to store up to 300 liters of water. The design comprised an advanced control system, thermal cameras, remote navigation, EDF turbines, fairing design and total power of 324 kW. Currently made of aluminum, with plans to switch to carbon.
    • The 5-liter capacity prototype was used to design the deposit and the discharge system.
    Expansion

    July, the first prototype was subject to flight tests with very positive results.

    September, Drone Hopper participated in Expodronica 2016 Zaragoza, the annual drone exhibition in Spain.

    October, Drone Hopper won several prizes and participated in different national events.

    • Won 2016 Aviation Innovation Award in Madrid Challenge, European Satellite Navigation Competition.
    • Won the One Magazine award for safety contribution, competing against Renault cars and Airbus helicopters.
    • Participated in Fimart, Fair of Innovation and Technology for the Rural World, Córdoba.
    • Participated in B-Venture Bilbao, the largest financing event for startups in northern Spain.
    Fundings

    Received ENISA (National Innovation Company) funding of €60,000.  

    November, selected to join the ESA (European Space Agency) BIC (Business Incubation Center) in Madrid. Project was co-funded by ESA (50%) and the Autonomous Community of Madrid (50%). Incubation period: November 2016 – May 2018.

    Challenges

    1H, Drone Hopper’s heavy-duty drones required similarly powerful engines, but existing electric engines that would do the job were very expensive. As a result, the company created its own cheaper hybrid engine that ran on gasoline.

  • 2017 - Developed Agro Hopper and Urban Hopper; production of commercial units through CDTI (Industrial Technology Development Centre).

    Read in detail:

    Products and services

    Agro Hopper prototype was developed, with a capacity of 80 liters.

    • Designed for agricultural businesses and precision agriculture work in large fields.

    Urban Hopper platform (150 liters) was built as a parallel international cooperation project between Spain and India, aimed at tackling urban fires.

    • Enabled Drone Hopper to work on the much needed thermal engines and acquire experience in validation, testing, certification and commercial activities.
    Expansion

    Drone Hopper joined important technological partners:

    • Control and automated navigation experts from Universidad Carlos III Madrid,
    • Regulation and certification experts from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid,
    • Supplier companies such as Automated Devices, Enaiden, Micropilot, Schübeler Technologies and Axter Aerospace.

     February, Drone Hopper participated in the Global Robot Expo 2017.

    April, participated in StartupOle in Salamanca and in the UAS Forum in Dubai to exhibit the drones.

    May, Drone Hopper won the 2017 Aeronautical Innovation Award from the Spanish Official Association of Aeronautical Engineers (COIAE).

    June, participated in AUVSI Xponential, Dallas.

    July, attended Rayana Fair and the III World Forum of Rural Innovation, Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal.

    September, participated in Expodrónica 2017 in Zaragoza, the first drone international trade show held in Spain.

    October, participated in the Aerial Firefighting Ferial in France and tech startup conference South Summit in Madrid.

    Fundings

    January, received initial grant of €190,000 from CDTI and a total budget of €760,000 to develop the Urban Hopper.

    February, European Commission granted Drone Hopper €50,000 from the SME Instrument under Horizon 2020 program.

    Policy changes

    November, EU to establish common rules for the civil use of 'drones' in the European Union. Brussels estimated that the drone industry could reach a niche market share of 10% of total EU aviation within the next 10 years ( €15 billion per year) and create some 150,000 jobs in the EU by 2050.

    December, drone regulation Spanish Royal Decree 1036/2017 came into force.

  • Recent Developments

    Drone Hopper team expanded into six members, with plans for two more engineers.

    Development of flexible platform for up to 2,500 liters. The hybrid thermal engines will boost lifting capacity and flight time range.

    Drone Hopper continues to exhibit in international trade shows, including Civil Drone in January 2018 and FIDAE in April 2018.


  • Future Plans

    In the short-term, Drone Hopper will focus on finishing and flying a mid-size prototype and the design and launch of the Urban Hopper platform.

    In the mid-term, more funding is needed to develop and manufacture large units with capacities of up to 2,500 liters.

    Possible commercial projects and pending resolution of public funding grants or projects:

    • Collaboration with INTECH to build and distribute 150-liter drones for firefighting systems in India and Asia using turbine technology,
    • H2020 SME Instrument Phase II for Wild Hopper,
    • CDTI Egypt-Spain bilateral call for agriculture with prototype Agro Hopper. 
Updated: 04/2018

Related Insights

f