AUS announces successful completion of hydrogen fuel-powered drone flight
The university conducted the flight, which was the first flight of its kind outside North America, in front of the AUS main building.
The team behind the drone flight includes Dr. Mohamed Gadalla, professor in Mechanical Engineering, as the research team leader; Dr. Sayem Zafar, a laboratory instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering; and John Mempin, a research technician and certified pilot.
The drone flight has many ramifications for the future of drones, “namely for parcel delivery, health care, first aid, border patrol, infrastructure inspection, survey applications, rescue, media, educational or environmental study,” Gadalla said.
The drone was powered by Proton Exchange Membrane hydrogen fuel cells (PEMFC), which create electricity by decomposing hydrogen while using water as exhaust. The drone was able to maintain steady hover and forward flight.
“It is the first-ever outdoor flight of hydrogen fuel drone flight with vertical take-off and landing capability,” Zafar said. “Only two other companies have done it before, and that was indoors only. This is a huge leap forward towards more electric aircraft. The flight performs operational tasks, which makes it unique and a practically usable drone.”