Honeywell has acquired assets from Ballard Unmanned Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ballard Power Systems, strengthening its unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and Urban Air Mobility portfolio.

As part of the acquisition, Honeywell will take over the key intellectual property, inventory and equipment of Ballard Unmanned Systems and also take on Ballard’s team of fuel-cell experts.

The deal also sees Honeywell enter the hydrogen fuel cells market for UAS and broader aviation applications, and using the added capabilities of Ballard Unmanned System, it plans to introduce a family of fuel cell power systems for a variety of UAS vehicles.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and there is no change to Honeywell’s third-quarter 2020 outlook as a result of the acquisition.

“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 Chief Executive Officer at 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.”

A fuel cell uses the chemical energy of hydrogen or another fuel to cleanly and efficiently produce electricity. Unmanned aerial systems powered by fuel cells can fly longer distances, are quiet and have zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Fuel cells function much like traditional batteries but with a key difference: They don’t run out of power or need to be recharged.

In a press release, Honeywell says Ballard Unmanned Systems’ fuel cell power systems can run up to three times longer than batteries and are five times more reliable than small engines. Unlike traditional gas engines that have carbon emissions, they utilise hydrogen – a clean source of energy.

Randy MacEwen, Ballard President and CEO, said: “We remain positive on the long-term outlook for fuel cell propulsion systems in the UAV market.  However, we determined to divest this non-core systems business given our strategic focus on the Heavy- and Medium-Duty Motive markets of bus, truck, train and marine, where we expect scaled commercialisation and growth through 2030 and beyond.

“We believe the UAV business will be best positioned within the Honeywell enterprise and look forward to our ongoing collaboration with Honeywell and growing the exciting business opportunities for a range of urban air mobility and broader aerospace applications.”

In June, Honeywell launched a business dedicated to UAS and Urban Air Mobility and in September, opened a new research and development lab to demonstrate its technological capabilities in both hardware and software for the UAS and Urban Air Mobility markets.