Are You Using the Right Solar Metric?


Adding solar can greatly extend the endurance and range of fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). However, there may be associated performance tradeoffs to consider. So how do you choose the right solar photovoltaic technology?

Typically, efficiency is the only metric considered. In reality, this is an inadequate measure. UAVs have unique weight and area constraints that should be accounted for. Excess weight detracts from payload lift capacity and wing surface area is limited.

We at Alta Devices spend a lot of time working with different UAV platforms and recognize the importance and impact of these constraints. In this whitepaper we present and calculate a new metric, Puav that prioritizes power-to-mass and power-to-area ratios of solar technologies. Of the solar technologies in the market today, thin gallium-arsenide solar has the highest performance where space is limited and weight must be minimized.

Download our White Paper for full details.