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High Flying Solar-Powered UAVs Could Replace Some Satellites

The end of a military designation for UAVs could begin to open up all new areas of development for the unmanned craft. Mobile devices could receive real-time updates from UAVs monitoring everything from traffic to weather, and Google Maps could gain a whole new perspective.

Titan Aerospace has a different plan for UAVs. The company has recently unveiled designs for solar-powered vehicles that skim across the skies at 65,000 feet. Named the Solara 50 and 60, these new UAVs could stay aloft for years at a time and take over some of the jobs typically performed by satellites.

Titan Aerospace's Solara UAV is solar-powered and could remain in "atmospheric orbit" for years at a time. Courtesy of Titan Aerospace.

Titan is aiming for $1 million aircraft, making either version of the UAV cost much less to build and launch than typical satellites. A Solara could also be recalled to the ground for repairs or to be outfitted with a new payload; neither of which is practical for satellites. Titan’s claims that the UAVs could soar through the skies for years at a time is based on the lifespan of parts, and the general calm of the tropopause in which the vehicles would operate.

The wings of the UAVs are covered in 3000 solar cells, which can generate up to 7 kilowatts of power. Some of that power can also be stored in lithium ion batteries built inside the wings to ensure the Solara has enough juice to continue operations during the night.

The UAVs have a payload capacity of around 250 lbs, and are guided in flight by on-board sensors, and a high speed radio transmits telemetry back to the ground. The Solara 50 is 15 meters long with a wingspan of 50 meters, and the Solara 60 has a 60 meter wingspan.

Below you’ll find a video about the new UAVs.

Source: Titan Aerospace

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