UK company QinetiQ has smashed previous world records with their ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre UAV Zephyr.
The UAV has more than quadrupled the record for the longest duration unmanned flight, staying in the air for more than 2 weeks (a total of 336 hours and 21 minutes). Zephyr has also flown longer, non-stop and without refuelling than any other previous aircraft. The record was achieved by the UAVs unique design.
In spite of its wingspan of 22.5m, the vehicle weighs a mere 50 kg. It is powered by amorphous silicon arrays no thicker than sheets of paper that cover the aircraft's wings by day. By night it gets its energy from rechargeable lithium-sulphur batteries that are recharged during the day.
The company hopes that the UAV, which has been hailed the "world's first and only truly persistent aeroplane", will soon be put to a number of uses, replacing functions currently performed by satellites at the fraction of the cost.
More info here:QinetiQ Press Release
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