While you don’t usually see military-related stories here at Inhabitat, here’s an eco-worthy exception: the Zephyr is an unmanned aerial vehicle, which is powered entirely by solar power. The emissions-free, solar-powered Zephyr recently made headlines by breaking the record for the longest-duration unmanned flight!
The Zephyr, developed by UK based QinetiQ, is a lightweight unmmaned aircraft which uses a combination of a solar array and batteries to power its flights. The plane weights a relatively low 31kg and has a wingspan of about 16 metres. The total flight lasted for a total of 54 hours, which, if you do the math, is a very impressive number for a solar powered vehicle. The Zephyr went for two straight nights without stopping or refueling relying on its solar powered batteries for flying. It made it all the way up to 18,000 meters (58,000 ft).
Unfortunately for the team, the first flight cannot be fully confirmed, as it was fairly top secret event, and thus they cannot claim the record. Before you ask though, the team did second attempt which resulted in a continuous 33 hour flight. This flight is currently being verified by the World Air Sports Federation. Meanwhile, we here at Inhabitat eagerly await for the launch of the manned Solar Plane, which we hope will someday be our mode of transportation around the world. Viva la sol!
+ Zephyr by QinetiQ