On July 12, Moscow completed the first tests in Russia among developers of hydrogen fuel cell power plants, conducted as part of the Up Great Technology Competition — The First Element. Based on the competition outcome, the best result was shown by the Unmanned Helicopter Systems team and the Polytech team, which brought together the specialists of the SRSPU named after M.I. Platov and InEnergy. RVC, the Skolkovo Foundation, and ASI to implement the National Technology Initiative hold the Competition.
The best result was determined during test flights that took place on the territory of Crocus Expo IEC. The First Element contest participants needed to develop a power plant — an analogue of the battery — on hydrogen fuel cells for small crewless aerial vehicles with specified characteristics. The ambitious task was to create a power plant with a capacity of 1.3 kW and specific mass power consumption of at least 700 W*h/kg, while its mass should not exceed 7 kg. The developers needed to mount the created power plant on an exclusive multicopter platform, after which it should last in the air for at least three hours.
In total, 12 applications from engineering teams, commercial companies, and scientific organizations from all over Russia were submitted for participation in the competition. Following the results of qualification selection and full-time examination of competitive products, three teams reached the final: NaukaSoft (Experimental Workshop NaukaSoft, LLC Moscow), BVS (JSC "Unmanned Helicopter Systems, Moscow) and PolyTech (a consortium of SRSPU named after M.I. Platov and InEnergy companies, Rostov region, and Moscow).
According to the results of bench tests, two teams — "BVS" and "Polytech" — managed to achieve an energy intensity of 529 W*h/kg, and their installations lasted in-flight load mode for two and a half hours. For battery-powered drones today, this time does not exceed half an hour on average.
Despite the high result, which was an essential step towards the creation and field testing of new energy sources for uncrewed aerial vehicles, the technological barrier of the competition was not overcome. Therefore, a prize fund of 60 million roubles can be allocated to the following Up Great contests.
Up Great — the largest technology contests in terms of the prize pool in Russia. The competition mechanics are modelled on the prestigious international competitions XPrize, Darpa Grand Challenge, etc. Participants are invited to find solutions to the most complex technological problems, which in the world so far have no solutions. The winning team, overcoming the global technological barrier, receives a large cash prize — up to 200 million roubles — for the demonstration of an understandable and repeatable decision of the competition task to experts, the jury and the public. In 2018, the first Up Great contests started "Winter City" and "The First Element". The operator of technology competitions Up Great is RVC. The co-organizers are ASI and the Skolkovo Foundation.
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