The Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California took delivery of the Navy’s first ever hydrogen fuel cell powered rotary-wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) on 25 October 2019. The six-rotor UAS “HYCOPTER” has a blade tip-to-blade tip diameter of 7 feet, a takeoff weight of about 35 pounds with a five-pound payload, and a flight duration of about 2 ½ hours. The all-electric platform is powered by an ultralight PEM fuel cell fed with compressed hydrogen gas. The only exhaust product is water vapor. HYCOPTER’s ultra-energy efficient design and open-payload bay can fly many types of sensor packages for much longer than a conventional battery powered-drone.
The HYCOPTER will be used to support a Naval Research Program project which studies the feasibility of using compressed hydrogen as a power source onboard naval platforms. In addition, HYCOPTER could be used to support future research projects that require long-endurance aerial data collection. Hydrogen fuel cell technology offers a step change in UAS productivity and widens the scope of applications that are currently limited by battery-based technologies.
The HYCOPTER is manufactured by H3 Dynamics, in Austin, Texas. The Austin team conducted the acceptance training and flight demonstration held in Monterey, CA.
About H3 Dynamics
H3 Dynamics (USA, France, Singapore) automates field data collection and data interpretation from end to end. The company specializes in long endurance field robotics capable of collecting data on-demand, connected to cloud computing, and AI-enabled data processing. This unique end to end offering accelerates customer adoption in support of productivity improvement in numerous O&M and security use cases across many industry verticals. Extending robotic platform autonomy in the field is made possible through the implementation of ultra-light hydrogen fuel cell based energy solutions.