Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, are aircraft that fly without a human pilot on board and are used in the field to keep soldiers out of harm's way. Raven UAVs are backpack-portable aircraft that can be launched simply by tossing them into the air. Like most, they get their energy from batteries, but a team of engineers at an Air Force Research Lab in Dayton, Ohio, has developed a smarter way to power them -- fuel cells.
A fuel cell resembles a small generator. But unlike a battery, which can keep the Raven in the air for an hour and a half, fuel cells can power it for more than twice that amount of time. They're also easy on the environment, quiet, and more efficient. Chemical engineer Mark Roosz is part of the team that's busy thinking up new uses for their fuel cells. "My dream as a little kid was to be an astronaut and a fighter pilot," he says. "I'm not there right now but I actually think this is a better job than I was wishing for."
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles