Outer space satellite developer engineers solar wing for UAV

By Luke Geiver | February 02, 2017

SolAero Technologies, a New Mexico-based solar technology developer responsible for supplying solar panels for outer space satellites, is now helping drone-based operations fly within the atmosphere. Working with Bye Aerospace, an aircraft developer based in Denver, SolAero has supplied its solar panel technology for use on a medium-altitude unmanned aircraft vehicle. According to SolAero, its technology “achieves the highest commercially available performance level, offering a density exceeding 350 watts per square meter under standard conditions, increasing further under high-altitude, low-temperature conditions.”

The solar system has been placed on the wing of Bye Aerospace’s electric UAS it calls StratoAirNet. Designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in commercial and government applications, the system will eventually have a wing span of roughly 50 feet. The UAS could be used for communications relay, internet mapping, search and rescue, firefighting command and control, anti-poaching monitoring, damage assessment, severe weather tracking, agriculture monitoring and surveying, according to Bye.

To date, the proof of concept StratoAirNet comes in an optionally-piloted version.

Brad Clevenger, CEO of SolAero, said the collaborative work with Bye could usher in a new era of middle and high altitude commercial and defense applications.

“The efficiencies of their solar cells will make the benefits of StratoAirNet even more compelling, allowing the airplane to fly at higher altitudes with almost unlimited flight endurance,” adding that the team’s work with SolAero will create a pseudo-satellite aircraft that many think is unachievable.

In addition to its work on the male-UAV, the company has also worked on other electric aircrafts. In the small UAV sector, the company owns Silent Falcon UAS Technologies, a solar-powered UAV designer and manufacturer.