Zephyr breaks record for solar-powered unmanned flight

by Mark R

In case you thought that the solar-powered plane Solar Impulse with its record 26 hour flight was impressive, you might want to check out the QinetiQ Zephyr solar powered unmanned aircraft.

Two years ago, the Zephyr was able to stay in the air for almost three and a half days, and now the design team is going to make certain that it has the ability to stay in the air almost indefinitely.

The Zephyr has a 74 foot wingspan, but weighs in at 110 pounds. It is powered by solar panels that are about as thin as a sheet of paper, and there are batteries along the wings that can keep it powered for night flights.

It can also fly high enough so it is over the clouds, completely avoiding all bad weather altogether. I’m not certain what it is made of, but it looks like the lightweight materials that were found in the Wright Brothers flyer. It sort of looks like the Wright Brothers flyer too.

I suppose that we’ll be seeing more of these self-sustaining drones from the military. It reminds me a lot of the Boeing hydrogen powered Flying Eye that we reported on, but without the tank filled with liquid helium.

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6 reviews or comments

Prototype UAV glider can land on wires » Coolest Gadgets Says: July 23, 2010 at 3:25 pm

[…] of you might remember the Zephyr, a solar-powered UAV that can charge itself with the power of the sun. Some researchers at the […]

Solar Pool Heating Says: August 24, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Solar power unmanned aircraft is very cool technology, particularly for air surveillance during military operation or geological investigation. If the flying duration can stay longer that would be more cool, maybe can have tour around the globe in less than “80” days! :-)

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