Two decades ago, hydrogen technology was predominantly associated with emissions-free light-duty vehicles. However, in recent years, hydrogen has expanded its initial boundaries, encompassing more and more industries. One of the recent vectors has been the aviation sector, which seemed an impossible candidate for hydrogen adoption. Technically, fuel cells have been in use for quite some time; early hydrogen-based fuel cells were developed for the space program, and their alkaline versions reliably powered the space shuttles. Even in the realm of non-fuel cell hydrogen planes, historical examples can be found. Recently, both commercial aviation giants Boeing and Airbus have embraced the integration of hydrogen into their products. Additionally, companies like Zero-Avia and United Hydrogen are actively developing the smaller frame market, while several players are entering the fuel cell drone market. In this context, let’s delve into the innovative journey of Heven Drones, an Israeli company trailblazing fuel cell-based drone technology.
Heven Drones’ journey began in Israel in 2019, a hub for technological innovation, where they leveraged government funding to incubate their groundbreaking technologies. Despite Israel’s limited size, it provides fertile ground for tech startups. Heven Drones capitalized on the local environment for research and development, creating endurance drones with fuel cell technology that surpasses the range limitations of battery-powered alternatives. The company has grown to approximately 40 people, including small-scale manufacturing tailored to domestic and select global markets. Recognizing the immense potential of the U.S. market, Heven Drones expanded to Miami, strategically positioned between North and South America. The city’s favorable weather conditions facilitate drone testing and operations. Furthermore, due to its aerospace history, Miami offers access to top talent and advanced manufacturing facilities. The company is pursuing small series production with an undisclosed local partner, targeting several hundred drones per month, emphasizing the importance of quality and attention to detail over mass manufacturing.
Heven Drones’ fuel cell technology spans from the 3 kW H2D55 model for basic drones to the 15-16 kW H2D200 model for larger applications. For the latter, their goal is to create a swarm of drones, each with a 35 kg payload capacity and flight times far surpassing the limitations of traditional batteries. Collaborations with companies like Plug Power and Intelligent Energy have empowered Heven Drones to develop lightweight, high-power fuel cells optimized for drone use. These partnerships ensure scalability and efficiency. Plug Power, drawing from its expertise in the forklift market, will be working on the 15 kW range, aligning with the drone’s needs, while the Intelligent Energy product supports the 3-4 kW range. Energy density is a critical factor for drones, and Heven Drones has showcased substantial improvements by transforming an experimental drone from a 25-minute battery flight to an impressive four-fold 100-minute flight on a fuel cell. Optimization of design, customized hydrogen tanks, and, notably, future liquid hydrogen propulsion promise even longer flight times. The H2D55 model with a 7 kg payload has undergone testing and is being prepared for its first customer.
Like many fuel cell technology providers, Heven Drones is actively working on a commercial fueling solution to streamline refueling processes. Their approach envisions hub-based and hub-to-hub operations, simplifying refueling logistics for customers. Efforts to design a micro electrolyzer and an integrated fueling interconnection are underway, with a focus on engineering solutions.
Alex Ivanenko, the CEO of HyWatts Inc., shared that during his tenure as the CEO of HyPoint, a high-temperature aviation fuel cell manufacturer before its acquisition by Zero-Avia, the company explored drone applications. Due to the underdeveloped market and strong competition from battery-powered drones, the decision was made to pursue the more lucrative large frame market.
Despite the challenges, Heven Drones is betting that the fuel cell drone market holds immense potential, with applications in policing, military, firefighting, industrial settings, smart cities, and more. They anticipate a future where fuel cell drones become a commodity, offering competitive pricing and extended lifecycles compared to batteries. Bentzion Levinson, Founder & CEO of Heven Drones, noted, “I sincerely believe that the drone market is a very large blue ocean that today is not yet accessible, and hydrogen fuel cells are the key to unlocking this potential together with industry advancements around hydrogen infrastructure and drone regulations.”
Drones Can Be Even More Effective for Search and Rescue
There are numerous historical use cases that illustrate the point that drones deployed for search and rescue operations or to provide assistance to victims made great contributions to rescue efforts for limited time periods.
Disaster preparedness is a major concern for authorities at all levels of government, as well as for a large number of private organizations. In 2020, for example, governments in the United States spent nearly $30 billion on disaster preparedness — a major expenditure by all accounts.
The use of drones can be an important component of these disaster responses and can be used to an even greater extent and with more benefits than in the past — transporting supplies or equipment to remote areas where rescue workers cannot get to easily, delivering medicines and other essential goods, quickly identifying the sources of fires, and seeking out survivors.
While drones have proven effective in all these scenarios, they are often limited by their flight capabilities. Those limits aren’t because of drone ineffectiveness but because of fuel issues. Most non-military drones can fly for no more than 45 minutes at a time, with flight times shortened even more if they are loaded with equipment like cameras or with supplies for victims. For drones to reach their full potential in rescue scenarios, they need to be kept aloft longer.
One technology that can accomplish that comes in the form of hydrogen power — a technology that can be implemented almost immediately, with few technical snags. Drones that use hydrogen can fly far longer than conventional, battery-powered drones, remaining aloft for as many as four hours before they need refueling. A flight window of that length will enable authorities to use drones for even the most complicated rescue operations, enabling them to fly farther into disaster zones than was ever possible before.
Recognizing the advantage of hydrogen power as fuel in general — and for rescue efforts in particular — the federal government has extended support for the technology in the form of hydrogen hubs, currently being developed jointly by nonprofits and companies like utilities and oil firms. As hydrogen hubs become increasingly available, rescue organizations that need to fly drones — among them local police, fire, or first-aid groups — are likely to be among the first to take advantage of the hydrogen produced by these hubs.
There are numerous historical use cases that illustrate the point. Drones deployed for search and rescue operations or to provide assistance to victims made great contributions to rescue efforts, but only for limited periods of time. For example, authorities used drones when massive floods hit Chennai, a city of 4.6 million people on India’s southeast coast, in 2015. The drones conducted a flyover of the region, taking video and photos of the disaster zone and uploading the images to rescue officials, who were able to save some 200 victims based on the images. But the area the drones could cover was limited by range and flying time.
In another example, AT&T has been using drones to provide cellular service for people in disaster zones, enabling them to call relatives or contact rescue services. The company has used them in numerous emergencies, providing communications in events such as the massive flooding that hit Puerto Rico in 2017. AT&T’s latest iteration of the technology can provide 5G cell service over 10 square miles, but these drones, too, are limited, because they need to be tethered. Thus, they can stay aloft far longer than battery-based drones, but they cannot venture past the extent of their tethering cord, making them unsuitable for wide-range disasters.
With a far greater flying time than battery-powered drones, hydrogen-powered drones can fly independently, and more deeply, into disaster zones, uploading images or delivering equipment to victims. With that longer flying time, drones could, for example, venture into the center of forest fires, sending back real-time images of how the fire is spreading, and seeking out individuals who may have been unable to flee.
In an earthquake scenario, drones could make several passes over buildings and even navigate into parts of a building that have collapsed, using sensors or thermal imaging to seek out living beings. By conducting more than one pass, drones could lower or eliminate the false positives associated with these technologies. And when ships at sea are in trouble, long-range and long-flying drones could be used to provide a birds-eye view of the often large areas that rescue crews need to cover.
Drones can go where no rescue team can go, and uncover crucial, life-saving data far more quickly and efficiently than humans can. Powering them with hydrogen would allow us to use them more often and more effectively.
Bentzion Levinson is the founder and CEO at HevenDrones. A former military commander and Stanford Business School graduate, Bentzion is committed to driving meaningful change through technology. Bentzion led an expert team in a national project to detect and extinguish agricultural fires that were destroying farms across [Israel]. Bentzion founded HevenDrones in 2019 with the aim of creating an actionable drone ecosystem designed to optimize a wide range of industries, from emergency response, smart cities and agriculture, to logistics, construction, defense, species conservation and beyond.
HevenDrones to Present Hydrogen Powered UAS at Modern Day Marine Expo in DC
Hevendrones to present hydrogen powered UAS at modern day marine expo in DC.
HevenDrones, a leading drone manufacturer, will present its hydrogen-powered UAS, the H2D55, at the Modern Day Marine Expo in Washington, DC from June 27th-29th. HevenDrones will discuss the paradigm shift its hydrogen-powered UAV provides as well as additional model configurations in its hydrogen-powered product line.
Improvements in EVTOL technology are creating new defense and security use cases including logistics in contested environments (point-to-point delivery) and improved loitering capabilities for both attack and ISR missions.
Hydrogen-powered drones are uniquely positioned to significantly improve flight endurance as well as the logistical challenge associated with lithium batteries (supply, charge, and life cycle management) whilst also serving as the perfect use-case for USG hydrogen infrastructure investments in both a military and commercial context.
As part of the company’s hydrogen innovation strategy, HevenDrones is working to develop a hydrogen ecosystem, with a focus on electrolysis, fixed and portable refueling hubs, advances in regulation and integration within the wider mobility sector as well as other key hydrogen infrastructural projects at a military, federal and commercial level. HevenDrones currently has a partnership with PlugPower, a major supplier of hydrogen fuel cells designed to replace electric batteries in vehicles.
Roy Levy, VP of Business Development & Gilad Katz, HevenDrones Chief of Staff, will be attending Modern Day Marine, providing in-depth demos of the H2D55 and outlining the company’s US expansion plans. Please contact eli@Gova10.com for media inquiries.
HevenDrones is building the next generation of multi-purpose UAS capable of solving a range of commercial, infrastructural, humanitarian, and military challenges. Actionable drones not only capture visual and sonic information but perform highly useful tasks simultaneously.
Spanning key economic sectors such as logistics, defense, agriculture, IoT connectivity and emergency response, HevenDrones’ solutions deliver cutting-edge performance, patented stability and superior lifting capability across the US and the globe. The company is an early adopter of hydrogen technology, significantly extending flight times and speed, and is committed to clean hydrogen energy, compliant with American regulations.
HevenDrones’ leadership team includes industry experts from military, engineering and scientific backgrounds, with decades of combined experience. HevenDrones has headquarters in Miami and Israel. For more information, please visit www.hevendrones.com.
HevenDrones to Present Hydrogen-Powered UAS at Modern Day Marine Expo in DC, WASHINGTON DC, June 22, 2023
Bentzion Levinson, Founder & CEO at Heven Drones, joins Builder Nation’s Podcast host Elisa Muñoz to share his experiences as a leader in the drone technology industry and the insights he has gained from his broad experience as a former commander and Stanford University Executive Leadership Alum.
The drone technology industry is rapidly growing and has become essential to many industries. Drones have revolutionized how we approach inspection, monitoring, and surveying tasks.
Companies that provide innovative and customizable drone solutions and meet the unique needs of different industries, from defense to agriculture, logistics to emergency response, play a vital role.
One of these is Heven Drones; the company is dedicated to research and development and has reached groundbreaking advancements in drone technology. Their commitment to quality control ensures that customers receive the highest quality products and services.
This blog post will delve into the drone industry, the current state of the market, and future technologies, with a particular focus on Heven Drones.
Drone technology across the industries
Drone technology has existed for over a century, beginning with the development of radio-controlled uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) during World War I. Military utilization of drones has been ongoing for decades, with technological advancements making them more sophisticated and capable of performing complex tasks. As drones have become more affordable and accessible, they have found more comprehensive applications in various industries.
Drones have numerous applications across industries, including agriculture, construction, delivery, defense, and emergency services. They find use in crop monitoring, infrastructure inspection, search and rescue operations, and border patrol.
Remotely piloted aircraft systems consist of various components, such as the frame, motors, propellers, camera, battery, and flight controller. The frame holds all parts, while the engines and propellers provide lift and propulsion. The camera captures images and videos, and the battery powers the drone. The flight controller manages the drone’s movements and stability.
Heven Drones: creating the future of drone Technology
Bentzion Levinson shared his insights about the potential of drones in the future and the role of Heven Drones. This technology company manufactures hardware and software for autonomous and actionable drone platforms. They specialize in customizing drones for various industries and have a research team dedicated to creating drones that can lift heavier payloads and fly for extended periods.
Heven Drones boasts an R&D team of 25 highly skilled engineers working with clients to comprehend their unique requirements. The company produces drones in-house at its 1,000 m2 production facility in Israel, utilizing four cutting-edge production lines and expert manufacturers. With a monthly capacity to manufacture up to 200 fully customizable drones, the company also provides after-sale support. Thanks to their mastery of technology, expertise, and attention to detail, Heven Drones manufactures high-quality drones that deliver exceptional performance.
Heven Drones has joined forces with Plug Power to create powerful drones capable of carrying more significant payloads for extended periods. The goal is to lay the groundwork for a hydrogen-based drone ecosystem that can perform numerous functions. To automate logistics, the company uses an innovative Advanced Container System (ACS) that blends artificial intelligence with durable drones, reducing human intervention.
Every drone undergoes rigorous testing under varying conditions to ensure it meets the highest quality standards. Heven Drones has even developed a new control system, DMSS, that improves stability by 70% and increases Li-po battery efficiency by up to 80%, even when the drone’s center of gravity is 120% away from the midpoint.
Heven Drones FAQs
When it comes to drones, it’s natural to have many questions. Here are some frequently asked questions about Heven Drones:
- Which kinds of drones do Heven Drones produce? Heven Drones makes customizable and versatile drones that can perform various tasks, including last-mile delivery, emergency response, and infrastructure repair. Their drones integrate with existing systems, making them ideal solutions for everyday problems.
- Which industries are the platforms most suitable for? The drones are ideal for a defense, homeland security, agriculture, delivery, and enterprise, thanks to their high level of customizability.
- Where are the drones produced? Drones are created in-house, in a state-of-the-art 20,000 sq. ft. production facility adjacent to their R&D and administrative offices in the North of Israel.
- What is unique about Heven Drones? Payload, distance, customizability. The company creates customizable drones with superior stability, lifting capacities, and flight endurance, working with multiple partners to ensure their drones integrate seamlessly with customers’ existing systems.
- What are Heven’s plans for the future? Heven Drones constantly develops drones that can lift heavier payloads for longer flight times. They will soon be testing their first hydrogen drone, a dramatic step that could alter the drone industry as we know it.