Posted by: Nar Williams | August 25, 2008

Unmanned Flight Record Goes Green

The QinetiQ Group’s propeller-driven Zephyr aircraft flew for 83 hours and 37 minutes, more than doubling the world record for the longest-lasting unmanned flight. The ultra-lightweight plane is built from carbon fiber and powered using paper-thin solar panels that charge its lithium-sulfur batteries during the day, allowing it to cruise through the night.

The 66 pound- (30 kilogram-) plane was launched by hand on July 28 in the Arizona desert in the United States and flown by autopilot and via satellite to an altitude of more 60,000 feet (18,000 meters), QinetiQ said.

So — what can an unmanned, solar-powered, never-landing aircraft be used for? Why, military surveillance, of course! The AP reports that the Zephyr is funded “by a host of U.S. and British military agencies”.


Responses

  1. Next stop : Laputa

    Seriously, we may be lacking in anti-gravity technology, but living aboard a flying cottage might be the next best thing.

    I know it sounds ridiculous, but if this technology can be adapted for something larger and more robust, with more room for other facilities and even an aeroponics section, you could, technically live in the air for quite some time.

    18Km Isn’t that far from from the 20Km boundry of the Troposphere. The upper limit of the Earth’s weather systems.

    Heading toward the West during the day will increase the lenth of Sun shine. Heading toward East at night will reduce the amount of time spent on batteries as you will reach sunrise quicker.


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