Members of the NPS Acceptance Team pose with the HYCOPTER UAS during its acceptance flight on 25 October, 2019. (From L to R) Faculty Associate Gary Parker (SE), Assistant Professor Tony Pollman (SE), Academic Laboratory Engineer Rushen Dal (SE), NPS Students Lt. Col. Joseph Novak (ME) and LT Justin Laddusaw (ME)

The Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California took delivery of the Navy’s first ever hydrogen fuel cell powered rotary-wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) on 25 October 2019.

The six-rotor UAS “HYCOPTER” has a blade tip-to-blade tip diameter of 7 feet, a takeoff weight of about 35 pounds with a five-pound payload, and a flight duration of about 2 ½ hours. The all-electric platform is powered by an ultralight PEM fuel cell fed with compressed hydrogen gas. The only exhaust product is water vapor. HYCOPTER’s ultra-energy efficient design and open-payload bay can fly many types of sensor packages for much longer than a conventional battery powered-drone.

The HYCOPTER hydrogen fuel-cell powered UAS flies near The Impossible City training area on the old Fort Ord during its acceptance flight on 25 October 2019

The HYCOPTER will be used to support a Naval Research Program project which studies the feasibility of using compressed hydrogen as a power source onboard naval platforms.  In addition, HYCOPTER could be used to support future research projects that require long-endurance aerial data collection. Hydrogen fuel cell technology offers a step change in UAS productivity and widens the scope of applications that are currently limited by battery-based technologies.

The HYCOPTER is manufactured by H3 Dynamics, in Austin, Texas. The Austin team conducted the acceptance training and flight demonstration held in Monterey, CA.

Source: Press Release

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