Arguably the main drawback to drones is their relatively sparse flight times – you’re lucky to get a good half hour’s worth of flight and fun in with most drones before they need recharging. Manufacturers have been trying to lengthen a drone’s flight time by creating more powerful and longer-lasting batteries, but these efforts haven’t yielded much success. The key may not be in batteries at all, but rather, hydrogen power. UK-based power technology company, Intelligent Energy, has created a modified drone powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.
With hydrogen power, this drone can stay airborne for up to two hours, exponentially longer than other consumer drones. In order to get the specifications right, this drone looks a little different than your typical consumer drone. The hydrogen fuel cell sits atop the drone, while the fuel tank is attached to the bottom. Another boon is that hydrogen fuel cells recharge much quicker than most batteries – the company states the cell will be up to a full charge in just a matter of minutes, as opposed to the hour-plus charging times for standard batteries.
Expanded flight times are a blessing for many drone users, especially those that use UAVs for aerial photography and video purposes. Photographers and filmmakers that have been relying on drones for stunning aerial footage would no longer be beholden to short spurts of shooting time, and having to constantly land and charge or swap batteries out in order to keep capturing footage. Hydrogen fuel cells will greatly decrease this tedious process. Since Intelligent Energy has designed this hydrogen-powered drone with consumer applications in mind, their prototype is currently being fine-tuned in order to produce a final product that will hit retailers by 2017.