Micromulticopter Aero Technology, Co. Ltd. (MMC) showed video footage of the first commercially available hydrogen drone, the HyDrone 1800. The HyDrone 1800 is one of the first commercially available drones to run on Hydrogen using fuel cell technology.
Most drones today run on batteries that limit flight time (with a load) to about 30 minutes, depending upon the weight they carry. This has been a severe limitation for many commercial applications, as operators must switch battery packs or charge the current battery after brief flights. Hydrogen, an environmentally friendly technology, will allow drones to run up to five times longer – dramatically enhancing their commercial potential for applications like firefighting, agriculture, energy line stringing and inspection, and precision mapping. The hydrogen technology also runs at a lower temperature than existing batteries, potentially expanding applications for the new drone.
Stan Kostic, Overseas marketing Director for MMC, told DRONELIFE: “The HyDrone 1800 is a breakthrough technology for commercial drone applications. With flight times of over 3 hours, distances of over 100 km, and operations of as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius many of the barriers that exist for commercial and humanitarian applications today are removed…So many applications are well suited to this technology. Precision agriculture applications for medium to large scale farms, powerline stringing and inspection, mapping and search and rescue applications – all of these are improved by longer flight times. ”
Drone manufacturers have tried to increase flight times with better batteries, solar power, or even conventional fossil fuels; but MMC’s HyDrone 1800 with hydrogen technology is one of the first to actually make it to production. Fuel cell technology is not new; pioneering work on what were to become fuel cells was performed in 1838 by the scientist Christian Friedrich Schonbein. William Grove, a chemist, physicist an lawyer is generally credited with inventing the fuel cell in 1839. Fuel cells have been available for a number of years in automobiles; but the HyDrone 1800 is the first broadly available commercial drone to integrate fuel cell technology.
The HyDrone 1800 is available for shipping immediately to clients that have pre-ordered the drone; the company is planning to ramp up production to meet demand in the coming months. Hydrogen technology will be available in it’s own line of drones, and will be added to MMC’s current models for a variety of applications.
MMC is a 10 year old major manufacturer of drones for commercial applications. With R&D centers in North America and China, MMC develops drone solutions for a wide variety of uses including firefighting, precision agriculture, powerline stringing and inspection, security, search and rescue, and mapping/GIS.