While drones have been a hotly debated topic in the recent past, it is nearly impossible to debate their utilitarian purposes in a variety of different fields – they can be used for information reconnaissance, battlefield operations, domestic policing, scientific research, and even exploration of remote areas inaccessible by land. Some drones are even capable of performing services normally executed by satellites.
And now, aviation giant Titan Aerospace has made the use of these tools even more enticing by recently unveiling a new unmanned aerial vehicle that can stay airborne for up to five years.
You may wonder though, what kind of fuel source do these craft use that allows them to fly for so long?
Simple – solar power.
Solar Powered Drone: Source: Wikipedia
The new innovative technology by Titan Aerospace, aptly named the Solara, is an unmanned plane that is capable of flying at 60,000 feet above the Earth, where it can stay for a period of five years as it receives perpetual power from the sun above (it’s 3000 solar cells are capable of producing 7 kW of electricity).
Once above the clouds, it can perform a variety of different tasks, such as crop or fire monitoring, providing internet access, scientific research, and even anti-piracy surveillance for those out at sea.
Unlike a traditional satellite though, the Solara isn’t rendered useless when its mission is over. Instead, operators can deliver it safely back to Earth, where it can be recalibrated, reconfigured, and prepped for a new mission in the sky.
This isn’t the only one of its kind though, as multiple individuals and research facilities across the country are taking part in the quest for a drone powered by renewable energy.
And while they may only be a small matter now, these emerging aircraft hold grand potential that could change all aspects of our lives.
Source: The Economist and TreeHugger