Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Jan 20

Solar-Powered UAV Under Development

Posted in Energy Inventions | Solar Power | Transportation

Solar-Powered UAV If UAVs starts running on the solar system, then it will save lots of expensive fossil fuel and the add-ons in the form of greenhouse effects. Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are working on a model of a solar-powered unmanned flight system for round-the-clock surveillance. They have christened their baby as the Green Falcon. This solar UAV aspires not only to save lives but millions of dollars too by using the most up-to-date green technology. Queensland University of Technology is aiming to make the services of this unmanned air vehicle commercially available within 24 months following successful flight tests.


The Green Falcon is outfitted with a next generation warning system complete with remote sensing and visual data capabilities. Both of these facilities enable this UAV to detect bush fires in Australia that have caused huge damage in terms of lives, money and property. Another possibility is monitoring fires. The university’s aerospace avionics engineer Dr Felipe Gonzalez states, “Bush fires in Australia have killed many people and caused millions of dollars in damage. The Green Falcon is a next-generation warning system with remote sensing and visual data capability.”

The best thing about this UAV is it consumes solar energy during the day and stores it in an onboard battery pack. This battery powers the aircraft after dark. It is also fitted with infrared cameras. These cameras will be handy during search operations in locating distressed people and relay the information to emergency services on the ground. Another advantage of this UAV according to Dr. Gonzalez is “Unlike manned aircraft, which have restricted air time, unmanned aerial vehicles could provide 24 hours surveillance and coverage of disaster areas.”

Green Falcon has a wingspan of 2.5m and weighs 4kg (8.8lb) without a payload. This UAV contains 28 advanced highly efficient monocrystalline solar cells. Green Falcon also boasts of a maximum power point tracker, a purpose-built energy management system and a proficient lithium-ion battery. This UAV also requires minimum maintenance cost. It can be hand-launched for easy operation. Operator on the ground can obtain and react to images and videos sent by the plane.

This UAV can also be utilized for coastal scrutiny, atmospheric and weather research and prediction, environmental, forestry, agricultural, and oceanic monitoring and imaging for the media and real-estate industries. Gonzalez shares his opinion, “The Green Falcon is lightweight, it can be hand-launched and costs are low compared with other UAVs available today.”

The design supports improved swarming capabilities compared with other UAVs, says Gonzalez, which will allow the Green Falcon to provide coverage over large areas in as short a time possible, particularly useful in rescue or fire monitoring missions.

The first test flight of the Green Falcon was performed in June. To perform further experiments fund of A $50,000-80,000 ($45,000-75,000) is needed.

  • Jack

    I flew radio controlled sailplanes and electric powered models of the same size as the Green Falcon for more than 20 years. The wingloading proposed (approx 1.25lb/sf) will result in a very fast and difficult to fly model. At a higher wingloadings with payload and computer controlled guidance / autopilot on board and flown at high altitlude necessary for the mission profile described the Green Falcon will be even faster.

    From experience I can tell you that bigger is better from an aerodynamic point of view at the Reynolds Numbers that the aircraft described will produce at high speed. I predict that you will learn that a larger wingspan (say 4m) will perform far better aerodynamically, require less power to remain aloft because of lower drag, be less susceptible to upset due to turbulence, carry a far greater payload with less degradation of flight performance and be more robust.

    You should also consider the fact that miniature aircraft at high altitude are a serious collision hazard to manned aircraft as they are virtually invisible to a pilot. The Green Falcon will need to be HIGHLY visible from the cockpit of a manned aircraft and should be able to cruise at altitudes ABOVE commercial air traffic (> 40,000 ft) in order not to pose a collision hazard.

    Good luck

    Jack

  • James P. Turpin

    I’m sure that the researchers are aware that their model isn’t optimal size. They are still seeking the modest funding around the level of one-year salary.


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