Electric UAV increased persistence with integrated solar wings

Ken Steele
SolAero Technologies, California, United States

Keywords: UAV, solar, photovoltaic, power, persistence

SolAero is a Worldwide leading developer and supplier of high-efficiency solar cells used to power Satellites and space vehicles, having powered 100s of satellites in LEO, MEO and GEO orbits plus multiple NASA missions to Mars and our solar system over the past 20 years with zero mission failures. The application of our technology, environmental robustness and product reliability has recently been demonstrated on DoD and commercial tactical UAVs. For these applications, lightweight high-efficiency solar cells were integrated on the UAV wings and the solar generated power was used to supplement the normal battery power of the UAV. These commercial flight demonstrations and DoD sponsored flight tests at Yuma Proving Grounds showed a significant increase the available power available to the UAV during day-time operation. SolAero's structural design and composite fabrication capabilities were also applied to these UAV wings to achieve a mass neutral wing so no reduced capability would be experienced during night operation. Discussions with multiple customers on the benefit of the additional solar generated power for UAV missions include: increased loiter time; extended mission range; increased payload capability; high altitude long duration (months) sustained flight.