One of the major shortcomings of today’s drones – even the really expensive models – is battery life. You’re doing good if you can get 20-25 minutes of flight time on a full charge but a company by the name of Horizon Unmanned Systems (HUS) recently unveiled a drone that can stay in the air for up to four hours. How so, you ask?
It’s powered by a lightweight hydrogen fuel cell.
The rating drops to just two and a half hours when carrying a payload of 2.2 pounds. Even still, two and a half hours is insane compared to what’s currently available.
As Gizmag points out, the Hycopter stores 4.2 ounces of hydrogen gas at 5,067 PSI in its structural tubing which will be constructed of carbon fiber when it ships. This amount of hydrogen should be able to provide the same amount of power as 6.6 pounds of lithium batteries. The finished product will tip the scales at around 11 pounds and will feature 375W of hover power and 800W of climb power.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait a while to get one as HUS hasn’t even flown its prototype yet (that’s not slated to take place until later this year). Pricing has yet to be determined.
Whether or not this particular drone is successful, its use of hydrogen could convince other manufacturers to abandon lithium batteries.