The #National University of Singapore has created a quadcopter drone powered by #solar power – and it has finally piloted one of its first practical flights. As a matter of fact, the solar-powered drone has flown up to roughly 33 feet, or 10 meters in test flights. This is without the use of a battery or any other type of #energy – just solar power. This is certainly an impressive accomplishment worth talking about.
What is a Quadcopter?
What exactly is a quadcopter? A quadrotor helicopter is one which is propelled and lifted using four rotors. It is cost-effective due to its unique design. It is commonly used for aerial photography and can easily be used for surveillance, too.
In a statement released by the National University of Singapore, it was communicated that compared to fixed wing counterparts, rotary winged aircraft are not as efficient when it comes to generating lift. A practical solar rotary aircraft which is able to land vertically as well as take-off has been a huge engineering challenge.
The reason this #solar-powered quadcopter drone has promise is that it is able to gain lift in a way which is meticulous.
Other Solar-Powered Drone Attempts
Some might remember Facebook’s attempt at a solar-powered drone – Aquila. This solar drone was designed to provide internet access to those in disaster areas. Unfortunately, the solar project was ultimately abandoned. Google also created the Titan Drone program. You might have heard of Solar Impulse 2, which ran into numerous hurdles after it completed a trip across the globe. As has been made clear, success with solar-powered drones is not a given – if anything, it is somewhat of a rarity.
The solar-powered quadcopter created by National University of Singapore is made of lightweight carbon fiber and weighs just over 5.5 pounds. It consists of close to 150 silicon solar cells. The solar-powered quadcopter drone can be controlled remotely but it can also be programmed to fly independently through the use of GPS which is built into the system.
What could the solar-powered quadcopter drone be used for? Well, it can’t exactly transport people as it is far too small and lightweight, but it could certainly be used for surveillance and photography, as previously mentioned. This is in addition to package delivery and other applications. According to National University of Singapore, another practical application for the solar quadcopter drone could entail providing solar power to areas after a disaster – essentially, it could serve as a flying solar panel. In a circumstance in which sunlight was not available, batteries could be used to provide power to the #solar drone.
Over the last six years, eight student teams at NUS have made design improvements toward an aircraft fully powered by solar. Initially, in the first attempts back in 2012, a drone assisted by solar was only able to get under 50 percent of its power for flight from solar cells. The remaining power had to come from batteries.
#Aaron Danner, Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering supervised this interesting solar project. According to Danner, the solar drone is very lightweight and can run as long as there is sunlight – how cool is that?
Solar for a Better World
Continue to follow solar news so you can stay in the know regarding the latest developments to come out of the world of solar. Imagine a world powered by clean, renewable energy – a solar quadcopter drone is just one step in the effort to take the world to solar heights (no pun intended)! The ability to harness free solar power and utilize it for humanitarian efforts is very commendable. It will be interesting to see how the achievement of this solar-powered quadcopter drone is implemented for future use. Stay tuned!