Company developing a solar-powered drone

Updated 2017-07-21 10:42:58 China Daily

Craft would be capable of staying airborne for a week, developer says

China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, the nation's largest missile-maker, is developing a solar-powered unmanned aircraft capable of staying in the sky for a week.

The drone, which has yet to be named, will look much like a conventional fixed-wing plane and will be propelled by an electric motor and solar batteries. It will be able to operate for a week at an altitude of more than 20,000 meters, Ma Hongzhong, director of CASIC's Unmanned Aircraft Institute, said in an interview on Thursday.

The drone's wingspan will be about 25 meters and its maximum takeoff weight will be around 200 kilograms, he said, adding that the drone's first flight will be made soon.

Development started two years ago-a joint effort of Ma's institute and a research team from Europe, he said. He declined to provide details about the European partner.

"We are working with the European team to develop technologies and equipment for the plane. After the development is finished, my institute will be responsible for its marketing and sales," Ma said, adding that the State Oceanic Administration and the China Meteorological Administration have agreed to employ the aircraft for maritime emergency response and typhoon forecasting.

In the future, the drone will also be tasked with relaying communication signals and locating mineral resources because of its extended flight endurance at high altitude, he said.

Experts said there are no clouds at 20,000 meters or higher and the air at that altitude is stable, so the drone can take full advantage of its solar cells. As long as the solar power system works well, the aircraft can stay in the air as long as the controllers wish.

Ma said the institute plans to develop a series of solar-powered drones based on the first design. Future models will be larger and be capable staying airborne for a month, he said.

The China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics in Beijing has also developed a large solar-powered drone and is flight-testing it.

The United States and United Kingdom have already developed solar-powered drones capable of flying as high as 20,000 meters. The altitude record for such aircraft-29,524 meters-was set by the Helios Prototype developed by AeroVironment Inc in California, in August 2001.

Also in the News

Nicole Kidman Recalls Oscar Glory: Loneliest Time
Showbiz2016/06/16 13:58January 18 2019 06:07:05

Nicole Kidman Recalls Oscar Glory: Loneliest Time

Attending Shanghai International Film Festival, Nicole Kidman talks about her role in "Grace of Monaco".

Labor Day Travel Peak Starts
Also in the News2014/05/01 12:16January 18 2019 06:07:05

Labor Day Travel Peak Starts

Johnny Depp Delivers a Speech 'Evolve the Future' in 'Transcendence'
Also in the News2014/04/18 13:18January 18 2019 06:07:05

Johnny Depp Delivers a Speech 'Evolve the Future' in 'Transcendence'

Hollywood star Johnny Depp's speech in the upcoming new film "Transcendence" has been disclosed on Friday, April 11th.

China World Business Sports Showbiz Audio
C4 My Chinese Life The Sound Stage China Revealed Showbiz Video Travel Video
China World Fun Travel Entertainment Sports
Beijing Shanghai Guangzhou
Live Music Opera & Classical Movies Traditional Shows Exhibitions
Learn Chinese:
Chinese Studio Living Chinese Everyday Chinese Just For Fun Chinese Culture Buzzwords