Combining the vertical flight of helicopters and fixed-wing airplanes’ technology, the VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) drones are convenient. And with a fuel cell power system, the drone now has an extended range.
The drone, which weighs 13 kgs (29lb), has a wingspan of 3-meter (9.8ft) and includes 12 motor/propeller units distributed on its two wings. It has been developed by the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in close coordination with Royal Netherlands Navy and the Netherlands Coastguard.
While taking off and landing, the drone’s body is rectilinear upwards using the technology used in helicopters, i.e., propellers work like helicopter blades. The push is distributed between its 12 motors when taking forward flight, enabling the drone to move in a horizontal orientation.
The drone includes an 800-watt fuel cell, 300-bar (4,351-psi), 6.8-liter carbon composite hydrogen cylinder feeds into it. When taking forward flights, the fuel cell solely powers the motor. However, both fuel cell and battery power are used during takeoff and landing – when more power is required.
Recently a trial was carried out from a coastguard ship off the Dutch coast. The drone flew over the open ocean for three and a half hours before landing back. It is envisioned that it will be used for reconnaissance and inspection in the future.
You can watch a video showcasing the drone in action below.