Korea’s Solar-Powered Drone Completes its Longest Continuous Flight of 53 Hours

The Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) announced that its solar-powered drone has successfully completed its longest flight in Korea.

The agency said that its solar-powered electrical aerial vehicle (EAV-3) succeeded in flying for 53 hours at a high altitude where the air was insufficient. It soared to a height of 12-18 kilometers in the stratosphere for 16 hours. Previously in 2016, the solar-powered drone completed a 90-minute flight at an altitude of 18 kilometers.

In its press statement, the research institution said that it would utilize a high-performance battery pack and the solar cell to enhance the performance of EAV-3. It added that EAV-3 could stay for several days or even months at a high altitude of 12 kilometers in the stratosphere to execute different activities such as communication relay, real-time image transmission, procurement of ground observation, and atmospheric data. It could also surveil natural disasters and real-time illegal fishing.

It also has plans to collaborate with Korean industries to speed up developing the Korean model of high-performance batteries for high altitude. It is also working to develop a high-performance battery pack and lightweight structure technologies. The communication performance of the technology is enhanced to receive real-time high definition images from distances of up to 50 kilometers.

According to the press note, Zephyr from Airbus DS holds the world’s longest flight record for solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles, which flew for 26 days in 2018. U.S.-based Amprius’s high-performance battery helped to achieve the record.

Solar is making news in other transportation based applications.

In August 2020, SolarStratos, a Switzerland-based technology firm, announced that its founder Raphael Domjan had completed the first-ever skydive from a solar-powered plane over Payerne, Switzerland. Domjan jumped from the two-seater plane after it soared to an altitude of 1,520 meters (5,000 feet). The parachutist reached a speed of over 150 kilometers/hour during his fall

Mercom earlier reported that Israel’s leading research university, Ben-Gurion University, had designed a miniaturized solar-power prototype that would help private commercial space missions.