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29 July 2013

Alta Devices enables UAVs

During a speech at the Small Unmanned Systems business expo in San Francisco, CA, USA, Christopher Norris, president & CEO of Alta Devices of Santa Clara, CA, USA said that small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are no longer constrained to limited flight times and are now able to fly as long as the sun is shining.

Solar solutions for powering these vehicles have, in the past, either been too heavy or not able to produce enough power for long-range flight. However, a small UAV outfitted with Alta Devices’ mobile power technology can produce enough power, while adding practically no weight, to fly indefinitely under the sun, says the firm.

Alta Devices says it manufactures the world’s thinnest, most flexible, and most efficient solar material. In the case of a typical small UAV with a 9-foot wingspan, Alta’s material, which weighs about 125g (about 4.5 ounces), can generate roughly 125W of power. In many cases, this is enough power to sustain flight and keep an on-board power source fully charged.

“A broad range of civil unmanned systems will benefit from extended range and endurance,” said Norris. “For example, when a UAV is used to map a wildfire, or on a human search and rescue mission, it is critical to have flight times that are as long as possible.”

For agricultural use, the ability to extend the range of a UAV and shorten the task of monitoring a large area by avoiding stops to recharge, has significant economic benefit to the farming community. According to a report published by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), precision agriculture and public safety represent over 90% of the potential for civil UAS use and will result in an economic benefit to the USA of $82bn between 2015 and 2025.

Tags: Alta Devices GaAs PV


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