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!

zephyr, qinetq, solar, solar power, aircraft, green design

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.

+ QinetQ

Via UK Daily Mail