When solar-powered drones meet Arctic glaciers

Solar-powered flying platforms have yet to prove their real-world applicability outside of targeted demonstrations. Monitoring glaciers in polar regions is in pole position to become a primary application, as the midnight sun offers ideal conditions for perpetual flights.

What better place than the Arctic for testing the new generation of solar-powered aircraft? The Autonomous Systems Laboratory ASL has developed a pioneering solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), AtlantikSolar, capable of flying for multiple days. Glaciologists from ETH Zurich – who use UAVs to monitor glaciers in Greenland – need further endurance to deal with the immensity of the glacial landscape. Continuous daylight conditions in the Arctic Summer provide potentially ideal conditions for a solar-powered plane, which would drastically extend the flight time of surveying UAVs.

AtlantikSolar on the way to Bowdoin Glacier.

Learn more / Source: www.ethz.ch