SHENZHEN, China: Search and rescue is a major humanitarian use for drones, but mountain rescues at high altitude have been largely impossible due to the technology barriers created by the use of lithium batteries. Commercial drone manufacturer MMC has successfully smashed the barriers with the hydrogen-powered HyDrone 1550.
MMC’s trained pilots traveled from to Yunnan Province, China to test the HyDrone 1550 in some of the toughest terrain in the world – the extreme altitude and cold of the Yulong Snow Mountain and Baima Snow Mountain. The HyDrone 1550 performed at altitudes of 2200m, 2499m, 3200m, 3700m, and 4292m – over 14,000 feet – passing every test with flying colors.
The official tests were not the first successful outing for the drone, which has already saved lives. Earlier this year, the HyDrone 1550 was used to rescue 3 people during a mission on Changbai Mountain near China’s northeastern border. Literally translated as “The Perpetually White Mountain,” the rugged terrain and -30 degree C (-22 degrees Farenheit) temperatures make most drones unusable in the region.
“While the testing allowed us to present our results in a controlled way, we’re most excited about the practical use of the drone to save 3 people,” says zhihui, Lu, MMC’s president “This is truly life-saving technology.”
Drones offer dramatic advantages over helicopters in search and rescue applications. The cost of operating a drone is a fraction of the cost of helicopter operation; the size of drone means that it can fly at lower altitude and be operated in inaccessible areas. Conditions that may make helicopter flight unsafe for the pilot can be navigated without risk to the human operator during a drone mission.
While drones powered by lithium batteries have been subject to the limitations of short flight endurance and narrower weather conditions, MMC’s hydrogen technology has effectively removed these barriers. The carbon-fiber, hydrogen-fueled HyDrone 1550 has a flight endurance approaching that of a helicopter – up to 150 minutes – and a flight radius of 10 km. And most importantly for mountain search and rescue, the drone can fly in almost any terrain.
The HyDrone 1550 is used not only for search and rescue applications. The flexible payload system has made it a leading solution for power line inspections, oil inspections, forestry, fire fighting, and more.
To learn more about the HyDrone 1500, visit: www.mmcuav.com