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India to Develop Solar-Powered UAVs That Can Fly For Longer

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What if, instead of waiting for the sun to come to you, you would meet it half way? I’m not talking about any spiritual practices, but about a new way of grasping the energy, other than by conventional solar panels: solar-powered UAVs.

To picture it in your mind, think of if as a “pseudo-satellite”. Researchers want to create a drone – HALE UAV – which can perform several things: fly at an altitude of 30,000 feet for as much as 15 days to collect solar energy. This energy, collected during daylight and deposited in fuel cells, is set to provide power for electric motors during the night.

For the moment, there’s still a long way to go for the drone to be truly efficient, so researchers agree upon seeking US or European partnership.

I’s safe to say that HALE UAV’s “idol” is Solar Eagle: Boeing’s 400-feet wingspan UAV which can go on and on for 5 years, without a single “break”. Its recommendations are excellent: i’s a “zero-maintenance, launch-and-leave UAV.” In the meantime, other international aviation majors study along the same line.

Viewing their key role in modern-day wars, the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is preoccupied to come up with better remotely-piloted spies and combat drones, whether hand-held minis or full-fledged. Apart from the current Nishant UAV, plans include flying a Rustom-H Male in 2 years (time of operation 24 hours with 35-kg payload) and a Rustom-I drone, which can take a 100-kg payload for 8 to 12 hours. One thing’s for sure: this is an interesting scientific development, but we’re not sure about its goal.

[via Times Of India]

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