Innovative Hydrogen Fuel Cell Drone Receives Certification from the Japanese Government

The first certified hydrogen fuel cell drone conducted a successful flight in Japan 6 photos
Photo: H3 Dynamics
A recent premiere in the autonomous mobility sector shows promising results for further decarbonization, with the help of hydrogen fuel cells – the first flight of a fully-certified hydrogen-powered drone in Japan was a success.
H3 Dynamics, an aerial mobility company with multiple locations across the globe, has achieved a significant milestone – its Aestrostak hydrogen fuel cell system powered a drone that received official approval from the Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry (MITI) in Japan. The drone was developed by Drone Works, with support from technical integration from a Toyota Group member, Toyota Tsusho Nexty Electronics.

The pioneering test flight of the first certified hydrogen multi-rotor drone was carried out in Japan at the end of last month and demonstrated the efficiency of this environmentally friendly system. The drone was built with a small container made out of composite materials for high-pressure hydrogen and was equipped with the drone-compatible fuel cell system developed by H3 Dynamics.

The aerial mobility company has been researching and testing hydrogen fuel cell systems that are compatible with drones for more than a decade and has launched several air cargo platforms using these systems, including fixed-wing aircraft and eVTOLs (electrical vertical take-off and landing).

Its hydrogen multi-rotor drone Hycopter, launched a few years ago, was capable of three-hour flight endurance. The Hycopter was able to map out areas that were six times bigger than what battery-powered drones could cover. This performance made it an excellent choice for large-scale inspections, emergency missions, as well as reconnaissance and surveillance applications. The Hycopter could reach a maximum speed of 35 mph (56 kph), depending on the payload, and was designed to be refilled with hydrogen in 30 minutes at most.

The main advantage of hydrogen-powered drones, compared to lithium battery-powered ones, is the extended range, which enables them to complete more complex missions, in a shorter time, with lower costs. As green hydrogen becomes readily available, this will also be an effective environmental solution.

The Aerostack hydrogen fuel cell developer was recently selected by a large airport operator in Paris for its future air mobility ecosystem and will take this thing to the next level by flying the first hydrogen cargo aircraft in the Paris region.
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Editor's note: The gallery shows images of the H3 Dynamics Hycopter

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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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