Army gets special fuel cells for drones

July 31, 2012 at 4:39 PM
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ANN ARBOR, Mich., July 31 (UPI) -- Propane-fueled solid oxide fuel cells to power unmanned aerial systems have been delivered to the U.S. military by Ultra Electronics Adaptive Materials Inc.

The Michigan company delivered 45 of its ROAMIO D245XR fuel cells, which enable small drones to fly for more than 8 hours.

"The integration of our ROAMIO D245XR fuel cells with UAS provides a significant strategic advantage to our warfighters in the field," said AMI President Aaron Crumm. "Compared to other, larger UAS platforms, those powered by the ROAMIO D245XR can fly farther and longer, as well as carry more sensors and equipment with a much smaller logistical footprint.

"The ROAMIO D245XR weighs significantly less than a traditional battery pack or other power source, reducing the overall weight burden of putting advanced UAS payloads and flight duration capabilities into small squads and making it possible for the system to be operated by only one or two warfighters."

"This delivery continues to moves AMI beyond engineering development and into procurement, supporting the long-term strategic plans that we have with our collaborators and partners to integrate fuel cells with battlefield units," he said.

The units came under a contract worth more than $2 million. AMI said its multiunit small run manufacturing has delivered 55 units to various U.S. Army organizations, including the Rapid Equipping Force, Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, and the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center.

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