Addressing short flight durations is one of the final frontiers in drone technology. HES has a long-standing reputation for producing the worlds lightest and most compact fuel cell systems, which can be as much as 5 times lighter than lithium batteries. Following a first world distance record set in the US by a NASA-backed team from OSU over 10 years ago, HES has been pushing the limits its energy storage technology increasingly further, working from Singapore on various UAV programs and with leading aerospace institutions around the world.
HES is currently capable of over 700Wh/kg system-level specific energy and is working to push this limit even further thanks to a variety of novel technologies.
Now and after many years of work, HES merged its core technologies with a specially adapted multi-rotor design so that flight durations can extend to 3.5 hours, instead of the typical 20-30 minutes when using lithium batteries.
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Named HYCOPTER, the resulting hydrogen multi-rotor system will now be able to keep precision cameras and other sensors in the air for much longer, opening up new commercial use cases while reducing operational costs for service providers. HYCOPTER was designed in Austin, Texas where a local production base is being set up.
HYCOPTER includes a new breakthrough 140g pressure regulator capable of reducing hydrogen pressure from 350 bar to 0.5 bar. Other system components include specially designed HES fuel cell stacks capable of generating over 1W per gram.
HYCOPTER can recharge in minutes using bottled industrial-grade hydrogen from local hydrogen suppliers. With further improvements, HYCOPTER-type platforms could also enable product deliveries over much longer distances than are possible today. In the future, long range cargo drones would be deployed from autonomous hydrogen droneports.
Versions of HYCOPTER will emerge next in transitional wing VTOL applications, and the same HES core technology is now being scaled up to power manned electric aviation as well as other aerial mobility platforms under discussion with various international aerospace companies.