US: Bye Aerospace has announced an engineering, development and production collaboration with SolAero Technologies Corp. to put SolAero’s solar cell technology on Bye’s solar-electric unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), StratoAirNet.
The StratoAirNet family of UAVs is intended to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to support commercial and government security requirements. The initial medium-altitude StratoAirNet 15 proof-of-concept prototype is nearing completion and undergoing final assembly.
Potential commercial-mission applications for StratoAirNet include communications relay, internet, mapping, search and rescue, firefighting command and control, anti-poaching monitoring, damage assessment, severe weather tracking, agriculture monitoring, mineral source surveying, spill detection and infrastructure quality assessment.
The solar-cell preliminary design review was recently completed with SolAero engineers. Preliminary flight tests were then conducted on a smaller scale test wing. Following measurements and fit checks, whole-wing solar cell tests will commence on the 15-meter wingspan StratoAirNet prototype.
Since 2001, SolAero products have powered 170 successful space missions with zero on-orbit failures. SolAero holds the world record for efficiency of space solar cells, with more than 50 patents and disclosures with its 33 percent efficient IMM technology.
This solar cell technology achieves the highest commercially available performance level, offering a density exceeding 350 watts per square meter under standard conditions, increasing further under high-altitude, low-temperature conditions, the company said.
“SolAero is one of the world’s leading providers of advanced space solar power solutions,” said George Bye, CEO of Bye Aerospace. “The efficiencies of their solar cells will make the benefits of StratoAirNet even more compelling, allowing the airplane to fly at higher altitudes with almost unlimited flight endurance. We appreciate SolAero’s collaboration with our team and look forward to working together to demonstrate a remarkable pseudo-satellite aircraft capability that many have said is unachievable.”
“We are very excited about our partnership with Bye Aerospace and the future opportunities of the solar-powered StratoAirNet family of UAVs,” said Brad Clevenger, CEO of SolAero Technologies.
“The combination of our heritage high-efficiency solar cell technology and integration expertise with the wide range of capabilities of the StratoAirNet UAV family will help to usher in a new era of middle and high altitude commercial and defense applications.”