As expected, the Zephyr solar plane has officially broken the endurance record for an unmanned aircraft by flying for a whopping two weeks above an Arizona army range. The photovoltaic-powered Zephyr, which touched down on Friday, handily beat the previous world record of 30 hours with a new record of 336 hours!
The plane was designed by research and defense company QinetQ as part of an effort to develop self-sufficient surveillance aircraft. The Zephyr is fairly large, with a 74 foot wingspan, but it’s light, too — it weighs just 110 pounds thanks to a lightweight carbon fiber body. During the day, Zephyr juices up with silicon solar arrays and it stores excess energy in lithium-sulphur batteries that are used at night.
No word yet on when Zephyr-like aircraft will be commercialized, but we’re jazzed to see that solar power has proven (and then some) to be a viable technology in the transportation industry.
Via UK Daily Mail