The world’s first solar-powered helicopter just took off on its first test flight! Called SolarCopter, the model-sized aircraft was developed by a team of students at Queen Mary College in the UK. It’s propelled into the air using energy harnessed from the sun, instead of a fuel engine. The remote-controlled helicopter may be small, but the technology behind it serves as inspiration for larger-scale projects down the line.

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So far engineers have developed sun-powered planes like the Solar Impulse, but the SolarCopter is the first solar-powered helicopter.  The prototype can only fly for short periods of time, but the team is working on an on-board energy storage system that will allow for longer flights.

The SolarCopter is a quadrotor aircraft. Unlike a solar plane, the SolarCopter is more maneuverable; it’s capable of hovering and it can move in every direction like a standard helicopter. Although it’s still in the experimental phase, the SolarCopter could serve as a model for a large-scale aircraft, or help to enhance already existing helicopters.

+ SolarCopter

Via Fast Co Exist