Power, power, power. A drone’s literal life depends solely on its power source, something that has really limited its capabilities. Sure, a drone can fly up to elevations only planes could reach before. Sure, they are fast and can carry cargo from afar. But the one limiting factor is its battery. With a battery, it can only stay up for so long before coming back down to earth. Come back down, recharge, and then fly away again – hopefully this time it reaches its destination.
A number of companies in the past have tried to solve this energy enigma. The social media giant Facebook for example tried their hands on a solar powered drone called Aquila. Aquila was about the size of a plane, with its wings made up of solar panels. But troubles in production and development axed this once-promising idea.
Another company that tried to solve the battery problem was the company Airbus and their drone Zephyr S. The Zephyr shared a lot of similarities with Aquila. Similar designs of solar panel wings, similar body structure, and both the size of large planes. The only difference between the two is that Airbus is still going forward with their drone programs. The Zephyr is gaining some traction in its development, as this month it concluded its 25-day consecutive flight.
Solar Panels are the Future
So what’s next for the batteries of drones? Should we just wait out and see what the massive companies of the world have in store for us? Well, a group of students in Singapore put matters into their own hands. Recently, they successfully launched a solar powered drone.
Now you may be asking yourself right now, but DroneAddicts, you already mentioned TWO other drones that does the same thing! How is this any different?
Well, I’ll tell you, dear reader. This drone made by students from the University of Singapore is an average sized quadcopter – not a full sized plane. And the main difference between this tiny contender and the big companies’ drones, is that this one does not have a battery on board.
Yes, this particular drone relies solely on the solar panels strapped on top of it. Fully functioning (to a degree) without any battery on site. The drone flew 33 feet up into the air during tests. The initial tests look good, and hopefully they can optimize the solar panel aspect of it. As right now it is basically a drone strapped with a wide solar panel. But it can be good news for other drones in the future. Hopefully someday recreational drones can have a similar device on them. That way, we have more time flying, and fewer time recharging.