Honeywell’s hydrogen fuel-cell powered drones being tested in India

IDD Update

US giant Honeywell has developed a new technology that will increase the range of drones by three-times with cleaner, quieter hydrogen fuel cells

Means it will allow for longer flights with less human intervention. The same have been tested in India

A new ‘technology suite’ for light drones allows longer flight hours and with less human intervention. Compared with traditional drones using batteries and line-of-sight radio links, drones equipped with Honeywell’s Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) technologies can fly farther, carry more weight, avoid hazards up to three kilometers away and stream video of their progress anywhere in the world.

These are technologies that businesses have been waiting for,” said Stéphane Fymat, Vice President and General Manager of Honeywell’s Unmanned Aerial Systems and Urban Air Mobility business unit. “They will help make drones profitable for a world of new applications.”

A General Atomics Drone

The BVLOS suite comprises

  • Honeywell’s 600-watt and 1200-watt hydrogen fuel cells. Read about it here
  • Honeywell’s RDR-84K multipurpose radar
  • Honeywell’s inertial measurement units (IMUs). Read about it here
  • Honeywell’s UAV Satcom – the world’s smallest and lightest satellite transceiver.

The fuel cells in the BVLOS suite operate three times longer than batteries with equivalent output. They work silently, unlike gasoline engines, and emit no greenhouse gases. Operators can refuel or swap hydrogen tanks in minutes, enabling more time in the air.

Honeywell’s RDR-84K (Read about it here) is a phased-array radar that steers beams electronically, meaning it has no moving parts and requires minimal maintenance. It also requires no heavy cooling systems.

In addition to avoiding other aircraft, the radar can detect obstacles, map terrain and identify landing zones. It can act as a radar altimeter and provide mapping for alternate navigation if GPS guidance fails.

The BVLOS suite will allow drone designers to combine data in clever new ways to save weight and power. Its radar computes an avoidance path using built-in circuitry, rather than requiring a separate processor. Its satellite uplink can be used to download real-time weather and traffic reports from other drones.

Honeywell’s UAV Satcom ( Read about it here) and IMUs are available now, with some IMU models priced as low as $1,800. The RDR-84K and fuel cells are in late-stage development, and prototype fuel cells are available for purchase and evaluation now.

Useful in missions where visual guidance is not possible

Honeywell’s BVLOS (pronounced bev-loss) systems are ideal for missions where distance or terrain interfere with radio links or visual guidance.

Application include

  • Last-mile package delivery.
  • Military intelligence.
  • Surveillance and reconnaissance.
  • Pipeline and power line inspection.
  • Search and rescue, or use by first responders.
A depiction of how the drones will work. Source honeywell website

Drone is okayed in India medicine delivery trials

It has been designed and tested by engineers at Honeywell Technology Solutions (HTS), the engineering and technology development arm of Honeywell, with centers in India, the Czech Republic and Mexico. Samuel Pratap, President, HTS said  “In India, Honeywell is part of a consortium that has been approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to undertake UAV BVLOS experiments for delivery of critical items like medicines”.

The technologies draw upon Honeywell’s decades of experience building and certifying avionics, engines, and APUs for airplanes, helicopters and military drones.

About Honeywell Technology Solutions

Honeywell Technology Solutions drives relentless innovation with strong roots across the country. Its strong talent pool delivers futuristic technologies with leadership commitment and purpose-led-approach across a range of industry sectors such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, Blockchain, Machine Learning (ML) and big data among others. Apart from creating a developed environment for the innovators in the country, Honeywell has also been preparing the future leaders for the workforce.

The trials using the drone in India

Honeywell India

Honeywell is a Fortune 100 technology company that delivers industry-specific solutions that include aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings and industry; and performance materials globally. Technologies help everything from aircraft, buildings, manufacturing plants, supply chains, and workers become more connected to make our world smarter, safer, and more sustainable. All of Honeywell’s global businesses have a strong legacy in India, built over the last eight decades. Honeywell’s India commitment is evident in three state-of-the-art manufacturing and engineering operations, and four global centers of excellence for technology development and innovation. Honeywell employs ~13,000 people across different locations including Bengaluru, Chennai, Dehradun, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Madurai, and Pune

Honeywell Aerospace

Honeywell Aerospace products and services are found on virtually every commercial, defense and space aircraft. The Aerospace business unit builds aircraft engines, cockpit and cabin electronics, wireless connectivity systems, mechanical components and more. Its hardware and software solutions create more fuel-efficient aircraft, more direct and on-time flights and safer skies and airports.

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