Drones

Fuel-cell drone is good to go for 10 hours

Fuel-cell drone is good to go ...
The Hywings drone in flight
The Hywings drone in flight
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The Hywings drone in flight
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The Hywings drone in flight
The carbon fiber-bodied Hywings drone weighs 7 kg (15 lb), and can be launched from the ground by hand
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The carbon fiber-bodied Hywings drone weighs 7 kg (15 lb), and can be launched from the ground by hand

HES Energy Systems raised a few eyebrows last May, when it announced development of a fuel cell-powered quadcopter that could potentially stay airborne for four hours at a time. While we're still waiting to see how that one turns out, the company has in the meantime unveiled a new fixed-wing drone that's impressive in its own right. It's called Hywings, and it can reportedly fly for up to 10 hours without refuelling.

Hywings' fuel cell is powered by either a hydrogen chemical cartridge or a cylinder of compressed hydrogen gas – the former offers the 10-hour flight endurance figure, while the latter is said to be good for six hours.

The carbon fiber-bodied drone weighs 7 kg (15 lb), and can be launched from the ground by hand. Once airborne it can maintain a cruising speed of 55 km/h (34 mph), allowing for a range of over 500 km (311 miles). It can also withstand winds of up to 30 km/h (19 mph), plus it can be remotely controlled via a telemetry system up to a distance of 180 miles (290 km).

The carbon fiber-bodied Hywings drone weighs 7 kg (15 lb), and can be launched from the ground by hand
The carbon fiber-bodied Hywings drone weighs 7 kg (15 lb), and can be launched from the ground by hand

HES has designed the aircraft to work with three sensor payloads. These include a 1080p/60fps Hitachi HD video camera, a FLIR thermal imaging camera, and a Micasense Sequoia multispectral camera for imaging agricultural fields.

Given that Hywings was created as a demonstrator, there's currently no word word on when or if a production version may be available. For now, though, it can be seen in action below.

Source: H3 Dynamics

HYWINGS hydrogen fuel cell UAV demonstrator, powered by HES

5 comments
JohnM.Smith
Being in this business myself, I have to ask if this feat of actually flight of 10 hours has been achieved or is it all theoretical up to this point. I find a great many claims of endurance and potential records never are actually realized. Theory is one thing, doing it is quite another. Many claims of ultra endurance are "Blue Sky" sorts of speculations and are totally impractical for use in the real world. H2 technology is gaining fast by leaps and bounds, Miniaturization of the set-up and components are vastly improving fast as well but are they affordable and practical yet. How much does a propulsion system like this actually cost?
PlanetPapi
Anything more than an hour (practically) flying is impressive, really. 6 hours and 10 hours are scarily impressive. In the wrong hands this can be deadly. Sitting in your country and you can practically fly across the borders and cause national damage. I hope they background check before selling these to the customers...just like fire arms.
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is both cool and green. If they can make it - fuel cell - small enough for such a small plane, I wonder what else can be powered by a fuel cell?
flyguy
Fuel cells have been around. 8 hours for a Stalker in 2011 http://newatlas.com/propane-fuel-cell-powered-uas/19735/ 9 hours for Puma in 2008 http://newatlas.com/aerovironment-puma-hybrid-fuel-cell-uav-flight-record/8948/ 26 hours for a Navy plane reported here a few years ago http://newatlas.com/ion-tiger-uav-endurance-record/13487/ But this one takes the cake at 48 hours http://newatlas.com/ion-tiger-uav-endurance-record-nrl/27491/ If this Hywing drone can really fly for 10 hours, then they should do it and prove that claim! Takeoff now and land some time tomorrow.
unklmurray
I wasn't going to write a comment because this is an area I know basically nothing about , but then I read a comment posted one of the people who want to take our freedom rights away from us.....Yes it is true that if I was an Ex-convict ,I would not be able to buy a firearm from a store, But that doesn't stop me from buying from an individual ,nor does it stop me from taking yours should I feel the need.........Trying to regulate the use a drone with a background check is not an acceptable way of promoting the use of the technology, The technology should be free to all!!.........LOL :-}}