This partnership will utilise the DS30 hydrogen fuel cell-powered aircraft from Doosan Mobility Innovation, a subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate Doosan Group. Skyfire’s team of pilots, along with Doosan’s support on engineering and hardware, will set off on a six-month-long project to establish inspection procedures along a major US gas pipeline — both for emergency response and routine inspection.
Doosan’s DS30 aircraft uses an on-board hydrogen-powered generator to keep the platform aloft for more than two hours at a time and cover distances of nearly 50 miles.
“Distances like that are simply not possible on battery technology,” said Matt Sloane, CEO of Skyfire. “We’re thrilled to use this cutting-edge technology to help maintain the safety and integrity of our nation’s critical infrastructure.”
In addition to testing the aircraft in various weather conditions, the group will simulate responding to emergencies along the pipeline and develop real-time, actionable reporting functions to alert both pipeline operators and public safety agencies of a potential issue.
This group was recently responsible for completing a 43 mile ‘proof of concept’ flight between St Croix and St Thomas on behalf of the US Virgin Islands Department of Health. A big part of both that test and the upcoming pipeline tests will be securing FAA permissions to operate the aircraft beyond visual line of sight.
“With our experience in the FAA’s IPP program, and through our discussions on these two projects, the FAA has been incredibly helpful in setting the roadmap for us to complete,” said Sloane. “We are breaking new ground here and we look forward to a positive back and forth with both aviation and pipeline regulators.”
Doosan Mobility Innovations officially launched its US hydrogen fuel cell drone solutions and the DS30 Long-Endurance HRF Drone during the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show. Doosan is the world’s first company to successfully mass-produce hydrogen-powered drones for commercial use and was awarded the 2020 Best of Innovation Award in the category of Drones and Unmanned Systems from the Consumer Technology Association.
“We are very excited to announce our partnership to prove long-endurance, hydrogen-powered drone solutions with Skyfire Consulting,” said Doosoon Lee, CEO of Doosan Mobility Innovation. “Now, Doosan Mobility Innovation is ready to provide excellent customer service and dependable solutions to US industrial drone customers with our state-of-the-art hydrogen fuel cell technology and close collaboration with our US partners.”