On the 5th of July, I had the chance to meet the H Robotics team at their office in central London. This opportunity came about after a coincidental encounter with Regina Oladipo during our team’s participation at Queen Mary University’s 3 Day Startup Programme, where Regina advised us on our business case and kindly connected us with H Robotics.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, just after our participation at the Institution of Mechanical Engineer’s UAS Challenge, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Pippa Malmgren, Former Advisor to the White House, top economist, author and Co-Founder of H Robotics to find out more about what makes their HiSight SUAV model a true leader in this industry.
We’ve all heard of drones and what they’re capable of doing. Predominantly, we see professional photographers and videographers use them to increase their work’s creative value. If you watch content creators on YouTube, perhaps you may have even seen them taking aerial videos of their adventures and breath-taking landscapes. However, behind the scenes, a lesser known brand has already been leaving a significant global influence on the drone industry- H Robotics.
H Robotics describes their HiSight Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (SUAV) model as a “tool not a toy” designed for industrial purposes with applications such as mining, oil & gas and public safety to name a few. But what makes HiSight so special? It sounds too good to be true but the reason for its success is straightforward. The commercial drones we see advertised on all media platforms are typically fragile. The makers were aiming at a retail audience and not too concerned if customers "buy and break" their drones. Their business models benefit from new sales and constant upgrades. Their high price points are also due to marketing costs incurred by the drone companies themselves. On the other hand, H Robotics offers a product that is incredibly hard to break. Others try to make drones that fly super fast like Ferraris. But this one goes 100mph but is more like a Land Rover. It has a simple, robust yet versatile design of an aerial platform that allows it to take on different configurations (eg. sniffer, surveyor, monitor, land manager etc.) without compromising its performance and capabilities. Surely adding on different features to the drone must be inconvenient?- not this one. Simply snap on your configuration of choice onto the platform and you’re ready to go! Not only that, the HiSight's rugged design allowed it’s HiSight platforms to withstand gunfire. It took 700 shot gun shells fired at them one afternoon before only two were eventually brought down. It can also withstand extreme weather conditions such as driving rain, heavy winds, desert heat and freezing cold temperatures. Many drones will not even turn on if it’s too cold.
Long before the GDPR regulations came into place, there has already been concerns on how a company uses your data. Many companies co-mingle the data from the cameras with the autopilot. That means data can leak when autopilot upgrades are occurring. HiSight separate the two things so that proprietary data and analytics are secure and belong only to the customer. Their Flightcloud, allows clients to access their data and analytics at any time from anywhere, even on smart devices. Your data is even analysed for you in the simplest way possible; after a few points and clicks, your analysis is ready for use in a few hours. HiSight can be flown without the need for an external pilot that usually costs thousands of pounds per day. Thanks to H Robotics, it is now possible for companies to have their most junior employee with zero flight experience operating the drone.
Despite the numerous innovations that H Robotics offers, HiSight still stands as the most economical model amongst its competitors. H Robotics works with a B2B business model and the firm has already secured partnerships with blue-chip companies that will propel drones towards a future beyond recreational purposes. Furthermore, H Robotics’ incredible success so far means that they are going into their Series A round (first round of venture capital financing) with zero debt- a rarity for technology startups.
We look forward to the undeniably bright future of H Robotics and will keep a close eye on their future developments. For more information, please visit hrobotics.co.uk .
- Trisha Mason
BA French with Business Management Graduate and Business Development Manager for Polaris in IMechE's International UAS Challenge
The scene is tense. Several team members are huddled together over a test bed that holds bolted motors. The blue led of the computerized tachometer is dim in comparison to the sunlight flooding the room. As the last of the connectors is fastened, preparations are deemed complete. Slowly, my fingers grip the throttle stick on the receiver and I slide it up a trifle. The motor roars to life . And although we know it begins on the ground today, the sky has no limits.
A triumphant feeling grips the little crowd of engineering students, who see months’ worth of effort and research bearing fruit. The next steps, they realize, are simple. It is just a matter of assembly and test validation. They need hands more than minds now. Through the eerie of the applause, I reflect on our journey.
We started off as an IMechE UAS Challenge entrant, where we are set to represent Queen Mary among numerous other national and international universities, all competing to claim the throne title of Grand Champion. The challenge itself focuses on market gaps for unmanned systems, of which active and passive reconnaissance, as well as remote payload delivery seem two of the most essential and desirable qualities of an autonomous unmanned system. During the brainstorming for the design of the UA System, we identified a hybrid quad-plane would not only be able to take off and land vertically, but would also endure for hours using a gas engine.
Although an excellent idea, we were genuinely surprised that such a simple combination of two seemingly dominant technologies have never been commercialized. This meant recognition for innovation at the challenge, but it also meant uncharted avenues for commercialization all set to bring the future we dream of, even closer. The concept has been around for a while and is a genius culmination of agility as well as versatility. It is indeed a concept, that is set to revolutionize the drone industry we know of today. Capable of lifting increased payloads from a fixed spot vertically and swiftly transporting them through air horizontally, the drone finds applications in agriculture, transport and delivery systems (TDS), lengthy reconnaissance, military industry; you name it. And were leading the game.
- Muhammad Arslan Badr
BEng Mechanical Engineering Student and President of QMUL UAS Society