Solar-powered drone can stay airborne for five years, says U.S. firm

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An American company has created a solar-powered drone that can stay in the air for up to five years, the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Aircraft in the Solara series, the largest of which measures 60 meters across, are classed as “high altitude long endurance solar atmospheric satellites capable of carrying telecom, reconnaissance and atmospheric sensors.”

The drones can fly above the clouds at twice the height of commercial airliners, capturing energy from the sunlight and storing it for use during the hours of darkness, it was reported.

The solar powered drone has a “bright future,” said Titan Aerospace, the company behind it.

“New unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with powerful photovoltaic cells can fly for hours, months, or even years at a time,” states the company’s website.

Such drones could be used for carrying out functions such as surveillance, crop-monitoring, weather and disaster oversight, reported the Mail.

The Solara series differs from traditional drones such as the Predator, which is powered by an engine, driven by a propeller, and can fly up to 400 nautical miles (740 km) to a target, loiter overhead for 14 hours, then return to its base.

In contrast, the new Solara drones have a range of 2.8 million miles. Various reports suggest that the estimated cost of the drone is in the region of $2 million.

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