Singaporean company Horizon Unmanned Systems (HUS) has unveiled what it says is the world's first multi-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) powered by hydrogen fuel cells – the HYCOPTER.
The aircraft makes use of its frame structure to store energy in the form of hydrogen instead of air – eliminating energy-storage weight. With less lift power required, HYCOPTER's ultra-light fuel cell turns the hydrogen in its frame into electricity to power the rotors.
With this technology, according to HUS, today’s 20- to 30-minute multi-rotor missions are shifting to a new paradigm of flights that can last several hours at a time. The HYCOPTER is being readied for a record flight endurance of four hours, the company says.
The UAV’s special fuel cell was designed by sister company Horizon Energy Systems.
“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 HUS CEO Taras Wankewycz. “HYCOPTER is the first result of our efforts, and we intend to demonstrate many more platform innovations in the coming months.”