Intelligent Energy’s Hydrogen-Powered Drones Fly for Hours

Intelligent Energy's hydrogen-powered range extender enables "several hours" of flight time and can be recharged in two minutes.

One of the main problems with drones is the limited flight time. The new Bebop 2, for example, doubled the flight time of the original drone to 25 minutes.


A UK-based company is trying to change all that. Intelligent Energy says its hydrogen fuel cell-powered range extender allows drones to fly for “several hours.” The range extender can also be recharged in just two minutes, as opposed to a couple of hours.

Intelligent Energy will be demoing the prototype at International CES 2016 in Las Vegas in the Venetian in Suite 31-318.

“Even with advanced batteries their value is limited. For commercial use, they need to offer better flight times and range,” said Julian Hughes, Group Business Development director and acting managing director for Intelligent Energy’s Consumer Electronics Division. “That will all become possible with the release of our range extender platform.”

Since it’s a prototype at this point, Intelligent hasn’t shared any details about pricing or availability.

This, however, is the first hydrogen-powered drone we’ve heard about in 2015. A Singapore-based company called Horizon Unmanned Systems unveiled its Hycopter drone that runs on hydrogen power and can stay in the air four hours at a time - 2.5 hours when carrying a 2.2-pound payload.

Hycopter uses its frame to store energy in the form of hydrogen instead of air, eliminating energy storage weight. With less lift power required, Hycopter’s fuel cell turns the hydrogen in its frame into electricity to power its rotors.

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
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