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Solar panels used for longer drone deliveries

10 Nov, 2016 09:00 am

Flexible solar panels allow drones to remain in use for longer periods of times compared to battery powered-devices, thanks to a Silicon Valley company and a Slovenia-based start-up.

@ Fotolia

The two companies recently showed how their working drone prototype equipped with six solar panels could be flown for two hours longer than the 3.5 hours a typical battery-powered drone can remain airborne. 

Alta Devices based in Sunnyvale, California supplied the thin plastic sheets that were applied to drones designed by Slovenia's C-Astral Aerospace.

A key point is the design of the thin plastic sheets, which must draw power without adding too much weight. 

"With solar panels, efficiency is king," according to a report. "There's no point in having small or thin panels if you need thousands of them to be useful. In Alta's case, the company claims an industry leading efficiency of 31.6 percent."
Short battery lives have limited drones' commercial adoption, but solar panels could add hours to drone flight times.
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