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Honeywell acquires Ballard Unmanned Systems, will introduce ‘family of fuel cell power systems’ for UAS

Honeywell announced it will acquire Ballard Unmanned Systems, the aerial vehicle business of Ballard Power Systems, adding products and expertise in hydrogen fuel cell systems to its foray into the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and urban air mobility markets.

Ballard Unmanned Systems' FCAir product
Honeywell acquired Ballard Unmanned Systems, manufacturer of hydrogen fuel cell systems such as FCAir. Ballard Unmanned Systems Photo

Ballard Power Systems, a manufacturer of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell products for numerous transportation markets, agreed to sell its UAS-focused subsidiary to enhance its strategic focus on bus, truck, train and marine markets, according to president and CEO Randy MacEwen.

Per the agreement, all employees of Ballard Unmanned Systems will transition to Honeywell Aerospace, which intends to introduce a family of fuel cell power systems for a variety of UAS vehicles. The two companies will also commit to a “long-term strategic collaboration to combine Ballard’s expertise in fuel cell technology with Honeywell’s leadership in aerospace.” Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

According to Honeywell, Ballard’s fuel cell power systems can run “up to three times longer than batteries and are five times more reliable than small engines.” Although Honeywell rightly asserts that the carbon emissions of hydrogen fuel cells are cleaner than traditional gas engines, at present most hydrogen is not produced in a clean fashion, though investment in more renewable production methods is rapidly accruing.

“Adding Ballard Unmanned Systems to the Honeywell family is another example of our commitment to invest in the growing UAS segment,” said Mike Madsen, president and CEO of Honeywell Aerospace. “We can now begin producing top-quality, scalable power systems for our UAS customers and eventually adapt these systems for other future aerospace, defense and adjacent segment applications.”

Honeywell’s interest in this emerging sector of aviation was formalized in June, when the company launched a new business unit dedicated specifically to UAM and UAS. To date, Honeywell products in the space include compact flight control computers, lightweight radar systems, and electromechanical actuators optimized for eVTOL applications. Honeywell has announced collaborations with numerous vehicle developers as well as Swiss artificial intelligence startup Daedalean.

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