Hydrogen airship start-up HyLight has raised €3.7m ($4m) during its latest funding round, enabling it to accelerate the development of its zero-emission aerial data drones. 

The French company raised money from VCs and business angels including start-up accelerator Y Combinator, Ring Capital, Kima Ventures, Collaborative Fund, and Tesla co-founder Marc Tarpenning. 

Martin Bocken, CEO of HyLight, said: “This round of financing is a decisive milestone for HyLight. It allows us to realize our vision of providing large-scale infrastructure inspection in a decarbonized and highly precise manner. 

“With the support of our investors, we are ready to redefine the standards of industrial inspection and meet growing environmental and regulatory requirements.” 

The company’s hydrogen-powered airship Hylighter technology is designed to be used for inspections of large infrastructure such as power lines and railways and collect aerial data needed by industries to carry out maintenance or address issues. 

The €3.7m raised by HyLight will be used to fund the first large-scale operations of the technology and recruit experts in fields important to its development such as aviation regulation, hydrogen systems, and software development. 

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Additionally, the company will also develop new versions of its airship to meet industrial standards and international regulators while also improving its efficiency, safety, and production scalability. 

The HyLight project was first developed by Théo Hoenen, who has now left the company, and Bocken in 2021 and began flying its first prototype in November 2021, with other co-founders Josef Rokusek and Thomas Laporte joining in subsequent months. 

The company is one of a number of start-ups in the aviation industry hoping to repopularise airship technology, with Airlander 10 in the UK developing passenger vehicles and French company Flying Whales looking to use the vehicles for cargo transport.