Many aircraft companies are incorporating solar into their initial UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) or drone design or retrofitting it to their UAV wings by customer request.
Why add solar to a UAV?
The benefits include increased endurance, increased power and greater capabilities. This translates to the ability to fly longer or carry more payload. With solar added to its wings a UAV can potentially fly all day.
Where does that lead?
UAV’s with solar added can accomplish tasks that have not previously been possible. These include: infrastructure inspection over long distances, long range search and rescue operations, precision agriculture on industrial farms and communications infrastructure provisioning to underserved locations.
So why doesn’t every UAV have solar on it?
In reality, some engineering and know-how is required to optimize the power management and storage from the solar. This can be a barrier for some companies. Smaller companies may not have this expertise in house.
What are you doing about that?
Alta Devices and PowerOasis want to make it easier for everyone to add solar to their UAV. We have partnered together to develop a power system reference design for UAVs.
What does ‘reference design’ mean?
An architecture will be soon be available to UAV operators who want to use solar but don’t have the resources to focus on power design. Any aircraft designer will be able to leverage and modify this blueprint to manage the complete energy generation, storage and power management system for a UAV. This is without having to bring this capability in-house, saving time and resources than can be better allocated to payload design and aircraft aerodynamics.
When will this be available?
The reference design will be available in September this year (2017).
How do I get it?
Initially it will be available through Alta Devices and PowerOasis.