Drones can be a lot of fun. But they can also be frustrating due to the limited flight times, which currently stand around 25-plus minutes per charge.
That’s about to change.
A Singapore-based company called Horizon Unmanned Systems (HUS) has unveiled its Hycopter drone that runs on hydrogen power and can stay in the air four hours at a time – 2.5 hours when carrying a 2.2-pound payload.
Four hours still doesn’t seem like much, but it’s much better than what’s currently out there, and it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Unlike any other drones, Hycopter uses its frame to store energy in the form of hydrogen instead of air, eliminating energy storage weight. With less lift power required, Hycopter’s fuel cell turns the hydrogen in its frame into electricity to power its rotors.
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“We realized that the structures of these drones were hollow inside,” says CEO Taras Wankewycz. “We’re now able to use that space to instead of filling it with air, fill it with a useful gas, which is hydrogen.”
Hycopter can store 4.2 oz of hydrogen gas in its current structural tubing. The tubes are refillable and will eventually use carbon fiber tubing, according to the company.
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“By removing the design silos that typically separate the energy storage component from UAV frame development – we opened up a whole new category in the drone market, in-between battery and combustion engine systems,” says Wankewycz.
No word on pricing or availability, but the company hopes the Hycopter drone will be out later in 2015.