Just a week after I had talked about a hydrogen-powered unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) for the Navy, the world’s first commercial hydrogen fuel cell system for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has been announced by Horizon.
Now, I’ve talked about hydrogen-powered UAV’s before. In fact, about a year ago, Horizon teamed up Bluebird Aero Systems to offer the world’s first commercial long distance UAV called the Boomerang.
The newest commercial fuel cell system from Horizon is called AEROPAK and may be used by different model of UAV’s made by different manufacturers as surveillance and reconnaissance planes.
Another UAV report making the headlines this week is that AeroVironment has successfully tested its Global Observer Aircraft 1001 UAV at Edwards Air force Base in California. The hybrid aircraft made its set of maneuvers on battery power alone this time, but later will be fitted with liquid hydrogen for extended range and duration.
The AeroVironment UAV will be able to fly at heights of 55,000 to 65,000 feet for 5 to 7 days and has a surveillance and communications area of up to 600 miles in diameter. Using hydrogen power for UAVs provides a quantum leap over batter power and the fact that both hydrogen powered UAV’s and hydrogen fuel cell packs for UAV’s are being commercialized show the feasibility of yet more hydrogen vehicles in the marketplace.
Whether its commercial hydrogen forklifts, palette trucks or UAVs, one by one, hydrogen-powered vehicles are going commercial and it’s only a matter of time before autos and trucks will get to this stage as well.