Intelligent Energy Fuel Cell Drone
For anyone who uses a drone on a regular basis, the most common complaint to be had about them is their short battery life. You have to imagine that with the sheer power and processing speeds required to remotely control high tech equipment like this, that even state of the art power sources would be a letdown. The trouble is, nearly all drones sold to consumers are not using state of the art power supplies at all, but rather lithium or LiPo batteries, which offer very little in the line of sustainability. So, why are companies using this kind of battery when better options are available?
The Scoop On The Use of Lithium and LiPo Battery Packs
The reason that drone manufacturers are so quick to choose this route when looking for a power source for their tech is: it’s cheap to manufacture or purchase from a distributor. Everything revolves around how much profit a company can make, and so by using the cheapest parts that work, they can effectively make the most per unit sold. And this choice have served some of the top UAV companies very well over the course of the past few years, in fact, the entire industry is on a steady upswing projecting to be a 5.6 billion dollar enterprise by 2020 according to statistics posted by The Motley Fool.
It was only recently that people started to really take notice of the shorter trip cycles that they were getting from their drones. Once the initial shock and awe of controlling an aerial vehicle wore off, consumers hungered for a stronger and more reliable power source for the next era of UAVs. While this is still a low hum of discontent, some of the developers (both new and established) have begun to take notice. This spurned the creation of a new kind of battery for use in drones, though not without some cost to you in the long run. Even with this lingering cost for upgraded components, amateur pilots are still avidly anticipating longer trip times with bolstered power.
What Costs Can You Expect To Incur For Technology Advancements Like These?
The bottom line is this: you are always going to pay more for something that is better than the other products like it on the open market. Therefore, you can expect that when hydrogen based fuel cells are more widely produced and replicated for consumer use, the drones that are equipped with them are going to cost more. Comparatively, you have to determine if a longer flight with your drone in between charging cycles is important enough for spending more on a new UAV altogether. This is in no way to suggest that the bulk of options on this market will not continue to be LiPo or lithium batteries, as this will do the job at a cheaper manufacturing rate than the aforementioned new technology.
Depending on the quality of the UAV that you purchased, you can get anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes of flight time from these devices according to 3D Insider. If you wish to have more than this, you are going to have to completely charge the battery first. It has gotten to the point where it was easier for drone operators to carry around a significant amount of spare batteries rather than to wait the necessary charging time. Flying around the neighborhood or taking interesting selfies high above you are not the only applications for a longer battery life and heftier travel times. When you consider the commercial applications like safety inspections and lightweight deliveries, the demand for a better battery became a legitimate concern among production-based industries.
Why Are Hydrogen Cells Better For Long-Lasting Power?
What makes this hydrogen cell system technology so much better than the traditional components that have been used to power these UAVs up to this point? The answer to this is actually three separate and equally important factors. The first is that hydrogen-based systems are able to deliver more energy at a constant rate than lithium or LiPo options can. Secondly, the new innovative solution offers a lighting fast recharge time, leaving virtually zero lag in between flights when you do ultimately have to charge again. Lastly, these new options are not batteries that will dull with repeated charge cycles and lose their capacities.
While they are not one universal design, the premise for how these systems work remains the same. According to a breakdown of this new technology released by Commercial UAV News, hydrogen cartridges slowly release hydrogen into the system as it is needed to sustain a stable power. Most of its primary power comes from the chemical reaction with oxygen naturally occurring in the air around the drone as this hydrogen is introduced to the system. The entire network is coupled with a battery to boost power through more taxing procedures for the tech, like taking off and landing.
Are These Batteries Available In Tech Right Now?
There are actually multiple companies that are working on mass releasing their designs into consumer and commercial drones within the next year or so. One company that is adequately prepared for a major market release, even going so far as to test its more efficient 2-hour flight times on video, is Intelligent Energy. Their impressive drone is able to function for 120 minutes in the air, and with a quick change in the cartridge, can return to the skies for a further 2 hours.
What Could Longer Trips Mean For You And Commercial Industries?
While there is undoubtedly an entertainment factor to be considered in a drone that can stay in the air for a couple of hours compared to the average 20 minutes most consumers are accustomed to, fun is hardly the biggest selling point about this advancement. Commercial industries that are already employing drones on a regular basis for simple tasks could find the benefit in longer flight times and less recharging or exchanging batteries to continue the production they offer. This makes the push even greater for developers and tech companies to offer the most cost-efficient and powerful fueling systems possible.
The Future of Drone Power Cells Moving Steadily Forward
This is merely the first step towards making the drone industry better. With its aforementioned high sales expected throughout the coming years, it appears that software and tech developers are working in stride with one another to meet the public outcry for longer flights. Regardless of how much you might have spent on the drone you have, or the tricks that you might employ to get the most out of your battery life in your lithium or LiPo options currently put to work in your UAV, there is no doubt that you will be let down by the dismal length of use.
Hydrogen fuel systems offer no down time, and requires a step faster than changing batteries to completely restore power to your device. Even though it might appear bulky or less streamlined than what you already use for power, remember that this is just the beginning for where these fuel systems will eventually go in terms of even more powerful designs that boast a more polished and aerodynamic look to them.