The Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, has received the Navy’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered rotary-wing unmanned aerial system (UAS).
The six-rotor UAS ‘Hycopter’ features a blade tip-to-blade tip diameter of 7 feet, a take-off weight of approximately 36 pounds with a five-pound payload, and a flight duration of approximately two and a half hours.
The all-electric platform is powered by an ultralight PEM fuel cell fed with compressed hydrogen gas.
The Hycopter will be used to support a Naval Research Programme project which studies the feasibility of using compressed hydrogen as a power source for naval platforms.
The UAS will also be used to support future research projects that require long-endurance aerial data collection.
The implementation of hydrogen fuel cell technology illustrates a step change in UAS productivity and widens the scope of applications that are currently limited by battery technologies.