In recent years, drones have dramatically increased in popularity and find themselves widely used in a number of industries for a number of different reasons. As investment has increased, problems that existed at the very beginning such as the cost, power, and difficulty of use, have now been ironed out. Even the cameras are now of a higher quality whilst the navigation is second to none. Despite all this, there has been one big thorn in the drone’s side that has insisted on staying; the battery life.
The new additions have all been very exciting and have added value to drone products but the limited battery has been something of a frustration; however, this could all be about to change thanks to a British company. Intelligent Energy, well-known for its work with hydrogen power, has announced plans to develop a hydrogen fuel cell for all small drones. This news means that a device that previously flew for 20 minutes will last six times that amount and where charging takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour now, this could be just minutes with an attached fuel cell. After experimenting with various designs and testing between a hybrid of a battery and a fuel cell alongside just a fuel cell for the past 14 months, the company now believe that it can be released onto the public. After originally being tested on quadcopters, this has since spread to a number of devices including scooters, power planes and even mobile phone sets that provide up to a week of power on one charge.
A new ‘Snapdragon chipset’ was recently released by Qualcomm in an attempt to prolong the life of a single charge but only managed to reach an hour. However, the change is set to lower the cost of camera drones as the cameras are being produced on a widened scale for use in smartphones. Many people in the industry, including the CEO of 3D Robotics, Chris Anderson, are excited by recent revelations and have stated how the distance flown away from the handset has always been something that cannot be changed, however the amount of time a device is in the air is something that can be extended and we are now seeing the fruits of investment.
Currently, the cost of a design from Intelligent Energy is a high one but the company are hoping to turn to mass production in the future in an attempt to lower the costs for consumers. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to achieve this but one thing is for certain, there are exciting times ahead for the drone market and uses for such devices are increasing on an almost daily basis.