Wildfires are increasingly common worldwide because of climate change, threatening lives and acres of land.
High costs in operating, maintaining and training for current systems using human-piloted airplanes and helicopters.
Night operations or remote, difficult-to-reach locations are especially risky, endangering firefighters’ lives.
In 2017, global spending on drones reached US$6.49 billion, with nearly 3 million drones manufactured.
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.
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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.
Challenges faced included a lack of drone regulation in Spain and the EU and the ban on autonomous navigation of drones.
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1H, created firefighting Wild Hopper prototype.
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.
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.
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.
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Agro Hopper prototype was developed, with a capacity of 80 liters.
Urban Hopper platform (150 liters) was built as a parallel international cooperation project between Spain and India, aimed at tackling urban fires.
Drone Hopper joined important technological partners:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: