Solar drone stays aloft for record 7 days: company

Jul 16, 2010
A US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport on June 2010. An ultra-light unmanned aircraft powered by solar energy and designed for military surveillance and other uses has stayed in the air a record seven days, its manufacturer said Friday.

An ultra-light unmanned aircraft powered by solar energy and designed for military surveillance and other uses has stayed in the air a record seven days, its manufacturer said Friday.

The British-based firm QinetiQ said its 22.5 meter (74-foot) long Zephyr, weighing just 50 kilos (110 pounds), continued to fly over a US military testing ground in Arizona, and could stay aloft for another week.

The flight doubled the unofficial world record for the longest duration unmanned flight of 82 hours by the same in 2008. Zephyr's records will not become official until the aircraft is back on the ground.

"The current goal is to fly for a further week and prove Zephyr is the world's first truly eternal plane, capable of providing a low-cost, persistent surveillance capability over months rather than days," a company statement said.

"Potential applications include earth observation and communications relay in support of a range of defense, security and commercial requirements."

The latest model of the carbon-fiber Zephyr is around 50 percent bigger than earlier versions, giving it more space for batteries. The batteries are charged by the sun to allow it to continue flying at night.

Explore further: Solar Impulse departs Myanmar for China

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User comments : 5

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5 / 5 (6) Jul 16, 2010
That is not image of Zephyr, this is :
1.7 / 5 (3) Jul 16, 2010
They did not say or suggest that the photograph was of Zephyr. They captioned it as a US Predator unmanned aircraft armed with a missile.
So what is the problem?
The interesting questions to be asked are: how long can zephyr stay aloft?(the article implies indefinitely); and can it handle adverse weather conditions?(if so what are it's limits?).
not rated yet Jul 17, 2010
When reading an article about an unmanned plane that has just broke the record of staying aloft the longest, you AT LEAST expect the picture to be of it... Anyways picture aside this is a great advancement :)
Jul 17, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
not rated yet Jul 17, 2010
the nutballs always say the 'technology is already there' . it's only getting there. these planes have been in development for DECADES. http://en.wikiped...#Sunrise

IT'S ONLY NOW that batteries and panels are getting advanced and cheap enough to be useful and set meaningful records. things take time.
not rated yet Jul 19, 2010
This will be immensely helpful to our surveillance requirements! However, one would hope our ability to manage information is increasing at at least the same rate as our ability to collect the information.

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