Solar Plane Doubles World Record, Inches Tech Closer To Deployment
August 25, 2008 4:30 AM
comment(s) - last by
The Zephyr is very large, but ultralight and launchable by hand.
The Zephyr flies proud as the current unofficial world record holder for solar powered flight. The craft could provide a big boost to the UAV industry.
New design could be a boon to the reconnaissance, small plane industry
As the Olympics close, a
dizzying couple weeks of record breaking
have come to an end. In total 43 world records were smashed. In this spirit aerospace startup QinitiQ announced an important record of its own in the field of alternative energy.
In Phelpsian fashion, QinetiQ's Zephyr Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
obliterated the previous world record
for continuous solar flight, though some technical disputes may hold off its place in the records books for a short time.
According to QinetiQ, the Zephyr flew for 83 hours and 37 minutes, more than twice the longest flight time of
's Global Hawk, holder of the current record. The two craft are radically different. The Global Hawk is almost the size of a fighter and requires a full runway to launch. The Zephyr is much more petite and can be launched by hand.
The Zephyr features an ultra-lightweight carbon fiber skeleton, weighing less than 70 lb. Its 18m wingspan is paper thin and plastered with amorphous silicon solar cells made by United Solar Ovonic in Michigan. The cells pump power by day to the engines and to Sion Power lithium sulfur batteries to store power to continue flight at night. The craft also features a specially designed charging mechanism, and highly refined autopilot software, according to QinetiQ.
Paul Davey, Development Director for the Zephyr UAV, stated of the flight, "At present long endurance is measured in terms of hours. Ultimately we are thinking in terms of months. The current development programme has the potential to extend Zephyr’s mission endurance to around three months, which could force a wholesale change to the way in which the industry thinks about UAV operations."
Unfortunately QinetiQ's celebrations may be put on hold. The World Air Sports Federation--the governing body for air sports and aeronautical world records said QinetiQ's flight times failed to meet certain criteria it holds. Thus the Northrup Grumman record may live to see another day. This is not the first time that QinetiQ has had such difficulties -- last year it completed a highly publicized 54-hr. trek, which would have set the record, only to be disqualified for similar timing violations.
UAV military applications booming
and UAVs being discussed as a possible means of massive climate data collection, QinetiQ seems poised to capitalize on its success. And with designs like that of Northrup Grumman showing that full size solar aircraft are possible, it seems possible that a solar-powered composite ultra-small manned plane might even be viable in coming years.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: One problem
8/26/2008 6:32:28 AM
Despite your credentials I have to say a few things.
1. There are cameras specifically designed for aerial shots. These aren't digital cameras like you put in your wallet. They're mostly lens and a tiny sensor. You're more likely to see a lens like this at a major sports event than a birthday party. Therefore, unless you design aerial cameras it's hardly relevant as it depends on the weight of the lens more than anything. Recon can mean a wide variety of things, from low to the ground color photos to SR-71 blackbird altitudes (although this probably doesn't fly that high). If an ultra can fly above cloud cover it has all the solar power it needs. The best thing about that is that above the clouds there is less turbulence and solar has little need for oxygen. So efficiency goes way up at that alt.
2. There's no LCD screen, extra battery needed, or "power draw." The camera only draws power when the remote operator says to snap a photo, or when the on-board computer tells it to using programmed coordinates.
RE: One problem
8/26/2008 6:37:33 AM
Yes, I meant to say wallet. If you can put a wallet in a phone you can probably fit a camera in that phone too.
If I kept my wallet in my phone I'd keep my camera in my wallet. That way when I call Jason Mick's girlfriend and she comes over I can take that banana flavored condom out of my wallet and my camera will be right there too!
"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home
Boeing Stomps Feet, Demands Four Additional Months for Tanker Bid
August 22, 2008, 11:33 AM
Update: Search Engine Hacker Reveals Chinese Gymnasts' True Age
August 21, 2008, 8:57 AM
Dawn of the Drones
June 6, 2008, 6:15 PM
NASA Opportunity Rover Breaks Record for Most Miles Traveled on Another Planet
July 29, 2014, 1:38 PM
Commercial Drones to Get Privacy Guidelines Via Executive Order
July 25, 2014, 5:34 PM
Pentagon's Priciest Project, F-35, Misses International Debut
July 25, 2014, 10:18 AM
Temple University Researchers Hit the Delete Button on HIV, Remove it from Human Cells
July 22, 2014, 7:39 AM
Airbus Shows Off All-Electric E-Fan 2.0 Airplane, Plans Production in 2017
July 21, 2014, 9:29 AM
Buzz Aldrin Says First Astronauts to Set Foot on Mars Should Never Return Home
July 9, 2014, 9:46 AM
Most Popular Articles
Kindle Fire Phone Review Roundup -- A Solid "Meh"
July 23, 2014, 2:09 PM
Ford Details ’15 F-150’s 325hp, 2.7L EcoBoost V6; Demonstrates 732-lb Weight Loss
July 22, 2014, 6:55 PM
Windows 9 Will Merge Windows, Windows Phone, Windows RT in 2015
July 23, 2014, 3:33 PM
Comcast Memo: Harassing Customers During Retention Calls Actually IS Our Policy
July 22, 2014, 5:19 PM
Sony's Xperia Z3 Gets Detailed in Leaked Photos
July 25, 2014, 2:30 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information