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.
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."