Earlier today we posted a story on HUS’s hydrogen fuel cell powered drone and the amazing increase in flight time that it provides, which prompted several of our followers to ask, “why not just use gas?”
It seems like a simple solution, and indeed there are a few gas powered drones on the market, and even more R/C helicopters with miniature internal combustion engines. Fossil fuels provide more power, more fuel capacity, and the ability to refuel quickly (we’re talking refueling a tank versus recharging a battery, not just swapping it out for a new one). So why are so many drones reliant on electric power?
The obvious answer of course is safety. Filling your drone with a highly combustible and flammable liquid is something that should probably be avoided if it can be. (Before anyone says “hydrogen is way more flammable than gasoline!!!!” read this article) The main reason however is that gas engines aren’t the best choice when it comes to stabilizing a drone. Compared to an electric motor, their throttle response time is slow. Most drones require hundreds of speed adjustments per second just to stay in the air, making electric the superior choice.
However, if your multirotor requires a little more muscle, a little more lift, and a lot more crazy, gasoline is the way to go. Just ask this Swedish engineer who built his very own “Manned Multicopter”.
Nicely done, sir.