Welcome to PhantomPilots.com

Sign up for a weekly email of the latest drone news & information

Anyone into solar powered drones?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Beaver, Jul 20, 2015.

  1. Beaver

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2015
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    6
    Hi,

    I've been working on some solar powered drones / UAV's.

    Anyone at this forum who has experience and like to share some insights / photos etc?

    Cheers!
     
    BlackOpsTeamster, Ti22 and Duke like this.
  2. Duke

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2015
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    SW Lower Michigan
    I have been thinking about doing this at my home, I have a friend that is really into it. How far along have you come with this? What % percentage of power or maybe I should say increased length of flight time you can add on your drone?

    Thanks ~Duke
     
    BlackOpsTeamster likes this.
  3. Ti22

    Joined:
    May 13, 2015
    Messages:
    259
    Likes Received:
    86
    Location:
    San Diego
    Aircraft provide an excellent opportunity for collecting solar energy during daylight hours.

    I envision a day where solar/battery electric & wet fuel aircraft form a hybrid marriage for low cost, low environmental impact long distance pax flights.

    But in the meantime, it’s notions like this thread which present us the potential opportunities to actually “model” and refine some of this potential.

    I'm sure you're already aware but for the sake of other readers I suggest keeping an eye on this project - http://www.solarimpulse.com/

    Perhaps one of the most exciting transportation technology projects I’ve witnessed in a very long time.

    I dunno how MR (multi-rotor) will fare in all of this? Fixed-wing provides the glide aspect which can greatly economize energy requirements.

    MR is very energy hungry so any significant gains in solar-battery flight will likely be relatively minor compared to using fixed-wing AC.
     
  4. Duke

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2015
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    SW Lower Michigan
    Yes that is cool I have seen that before somewhere. When you have an airfoil that large you have a lot larger opportunity for success. You live in a place where you have sunshine out the wazoo. :) just didn't know if you had tried anything yet on your drone?

    Thanks for sharing ~Duke
     
    Ti22 likes this.
  5. Ti22

    Joined:
    May 13, 2015
    Messages:
    259
    Likes Received:
    86
    Location:
    San Diego
    Sorry to highjack thread but a quick reply about sunshine - once you’re above clouds there’s always plenty of it. Plus, at those altitudes it requires much less energy to overcome air friction.

    For a Phantom? I’m unaware of solar panels capable to contribute much of anything mounted on such a small airframe.

    Sure, maybe a ground array for battery charging but in-flight solar power would need to be a rather large platform and even then, MR energy requirements are so significant, good luck….
     
    Beaver likes this.
  6. Ezookiel

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2014
    Messages:
    575
    Likes Received:
    153
    Location:
    Canberra Australia
    I agree, I think that only very large wingspan fixed wing aircraft with just the tiniest motors, will ever have a chance of being efficient enough to self-power - at least not until aluminium ion batteries become a reality, or some other huge advance in batteries gets combined with a massive improvement in solar cells.
    A multirotor built completely out of the most efficient solar cells currently available anywhere in the world, and flying in the most powerful summer sunlight, still wouldn't currently be able to add even a small percentage to the total flight time with how power hungry they are. Holding yourself aloft with just the thrust you can develop from props alone, probably won't cut it. Perhaps if the body could be designed to behave slightly more like a wing it might help, but I think it would need far more than that.
     
    BlackOpsTeamster, Beaver and Ti22 like this.
  7. Beaver

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2015
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    6
    "I dunno how MR (multi-rotor) will fare in all of this? Fixed-wing provides the glide aspect which can greatly economize energy requirements"

    You're right, a fixed-wing with glider capability uses a lot less energy than a MR, a lot! And it makes all the difference..

    We did try solar cells on MR as well. The gains are minimal compared to gliders, but of course there are possibilities..

    Actually tried some on Dji drones.

    Solar powered gliders can extend their range in the triple digits percentage wise.. especially when you know how to fly them

    Solar Impulse is a great example. There are actually dozens of companies working on that stuff.
    See an overview here, the leading companies working on solar powered drones

    That's me with a prototype. It's at my previous work:
    [​IMG]

    Let me look up a couple more pictures..



     
    BlackOpsTeamster and Ti22 like this.
  8. Beaver

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2015
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    6
    Ezookiel, you're right about the minimal contribution of solar cells to MR drones.

    However there are possibilities.. for instance: drones that recharge themselves when idle. This could be used in remote areas where no power is available.

    Even though a solar powered charging station would in that case be far more efficient :)
     
    Ti22 likes this.
  9. Ti22

    Joined:
    May 13, 2015
    Messages:
    259
    Likes Received:
    86
    Location:
    San Diego
    That’s awesome Beaver, thanks for the links!

    I’m so old I can only imagine stuff like this for pax/cargo use. Many of those project prototypes are reaching for purposes I could never understand or envision. Wow, just W O W . . .

    I’ve posted this before in a thread or two but if battery interested people haven’t seen it - this young man is an amazing “genius” in regard to battery technology and many other things…



    His comment(s) about emerging solid state electrolyte tech is worth watching IMO.
     
    #9 Ti22, Jul 20, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  10. Ezookiel

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2014
    Messages:
    575
    Likes Received:
    153
    Location:
    Canberra Australia
    If the new batteries - from memory aluminium-ion? - ever got off the ground (pun intended) they'd make a huge difference. Apparently charge times would be measured in not much more than minutes. If that was the case, there would be a chance a powerful enough solar cell could potentially pour power into a big enough battery, fast enough to make even MR's a possible solar candidate. But from what I read about the new battery technology, it's still a good many years away from being a realistic feasibility.
     
    Duke likes this.
  11. Duke

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2015
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    SW Lower Michigan
    And naturally I'm gonna throw my two cents in here. Being I'm a Michigan Man. :D Meet Aurum. This car goes over 100mph with a mtr size of a hair dryer.

     
  12. Duke

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2015
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    SW Lower Michigan
    Ezookiel, Sorry I had the wrong link before Here is the University of Michigan Solar Car Quantum. (there newest car was on my prior post). They compete in an Austrailia in a 1800 mile race through the Outback every two years. This Car is street legal. After seeing this and having ground friction vs gliding through the air it may be possible. They don't need aluminum batteries they use Lippos. :rolleyes:

    Thanks Duke