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Solar-powered quadcopter flies without batteries!

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Engineering students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) developed a quadcopter that can fly solely on solar energy. The 5.73-pound prototype has flown over 32 feet with 148 silicon solar cells and a carbon fiber frame that takes up about 43 square feet. Solar-powered quadcopters have been spotted before, but the UAV that NUS students created is being called the “first fully solar-powered quadcopter” in Asia.

The solar-powered quadcopter can be controlled by remote or fly autonomously, and it can take off and land vertically, which is a standout feature that sets it apart from other solar-powered UAVs with typical fixed-wing designs.

“Our aircraft is extremely lightweight for its size, and it can fly as long as there is sunlight, even for hours. Unlike conventional quadcopter drones, our aircraft does not rely on on-board batteries and hence it is not limited by flight time. Its ability to land on any flat surface and fly out of the ground effect in a controlled way also makes it suitable for practical implementation,” said Associate Professor Aaron Danner from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NUS Faculty of Engineering, who supervised the project.

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