Drones have been making a major move into the public and private sector for several years now and the technology behind them has been steadily improving in order to keep up with demands. Faster speeds, GPS, Fly Home Features, higher resolution cameras, gimbals, and FPV goggles are just a few of the major improvements that have been made to drones across the board, but there’s still one problem that affects nearly all drones regardless of price, brand, or size and that’s a severely disappointing flight time.
The traditional lithium batteries used by most drones just aren’t able to supply a drone’s propellers with the power they need for extended flight times. Adding more batteries to a drone might seem like a simple solution at first (and one that some drones utilize) but that also means more weight. More weight requires more power to achieve lift and whole idea of additional batteries becomes counterintuitive. Other factors like speed, payload, and range all drain the life from a drone’s battery quickly and cut down on the amount of fun, or the amount of work, a person can achieve with their drone.
For a more in-depth look at LiPo drone batteries, check out this article.
So what kind of flight times are we talking about? Well, depending on what you’re doing with your drone, that’s a question with a wide range of equally disappointing answers. Racing drones have a battery life of around 3-4 minutes, just enough time to complete a race. Aerial photography drones like your DJI Matrice 600 or your Yunec Typhoon H are a little better off with flight times ranging from 20-30 minutes. The fact of the matter is you’re hard pressed to find a drone with a lithium polymer battery that can stay in the air longer than a half-hour.
That’s why the people at Horizon Energy Systems (HES) decided to go straight to the source of the problem and engineer a completely different type of battery, along with a completely different type of drone for that battery.
This is the Hycopter, and those twin tubes you see on either side of its body are filled with 4.2 oz. of hydrogen gas. Using a lightweight polymer hybrid fuel – and a butt load of science – the Hycopter is able to convert the hydrogen gas in these tubes into electrical energy. How much energy? According to HES, the Hycopter’s revolutionary new power system is equivalent to the amount of power produced by 6.5 lbs. of traditional lithium batteries. Because of this awesome amount of power produced using a fraction of the weight, the Hycopter is able to stay in the air for an unbelievable 4 hours! That’s ten times the amount of flight time produced by drones on the market today.
The Hycopter hits the scales at a dainty 11 lbs., with an additional carrying capacity of 2.2 lbs. So the Hycopter won’t be doing any heavy lifting out in the field, but for jobs like surveying pipelines or power grids, this is a dream come true. Currently the Hycopter is still in its testing phase, but CEO of HES, Taras Wankewycz, says that the Hycopter should be ready for sale no later than 2017.