A company called Hylium Industries has claimed a significant breakthrough in drone technology, according to a report by Hackaday. The company recently uploaded a YouTube video featuring a hydrogen-powered drone that boasts a flight time of up to five hours—a huge leap over current battery-powered drones.
The video features the HyliumX, which uses a hydrogen fuel cell to generate electricity for its motors and other electronic systems. Hydrogen cells’ big advantage over the commonly-used lithium batteries is their higher energy density, which allows the HyliumX to achieve a much longer flight time. While the video reveals almost no details about the drone’s inner workings, it is noteworthy that Hylium went beyond making a mere tech demonstrator and incorporated practical features into the drone’s design.
In addition to its long flight time, the HyliumX refuels very quickly—just five minutes, according to the video. This quick turnaround enables it to perform continuously with minimal interruption, making it an appealing option for drone operators. The HyliumX also comes equipped with a night vision camera and the ability to transmit video over distances of up to 10 kilometers—making it an appealing choice for surveillance and inspection operations. However, we should note that some of the promotional video showcasing these capabilities appears to be stock footage, according to Hackaday.
The video also claims that the HyliumX’s liquid hydrogen canister is drop-safe, meaning accidental drops while the drone is flying won’t result in a catastrophic explosion or other negative consequences. In the video, the company demonstrates dropping a hydrogen canister near an active motorway, with no apparent adverse outcomes observed. Although, when one watches the video, it raises the question if the demonstration was safe and responsible.
Keep in mind that Hylium Industries isn’t a well-known company. Its YouTube channel only has 320 subscribers as of this writing, and the video featuring the HyliumX has a mere 4,000 views. Additionally, this video has been live for about four months, and it hasn’t got much attention in the press. It’s also worth pointing out that the QR code featured in the video points to an unsecured website, so visit at your own risk.
Nevertheless, if the HyliumX is a legitimate product, it represents a significant breakthrough in hydrogen cell and drone technology that warrants attention.