Solar Impulse team envisages solar drones

Bertrand Piccard (left) and André Borschberg celebrate with crew members in front of the Solar Impulse 2 in Abu Dhabi on July 26 Keystone

The pilots of the Swiss Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), the first aircraft of its kind to fly around the world without fuel, are now working on the development of solar drones.

This content was published on October 10, 2016 - 20:51 and agencies, and agencies

“They would be a pilotless version of the Solar Impulse,” André Borschberg, one of SI2’s two pilots, told the media on Monday.

At the end of July, the record-breaking Solar Impulse 2 landed in Abu Dhabi, from where it had taken off on March 9, 2015. It ended up covering 43,000km without a single drop of jet fuel with stops in 17 destinations.

The feat enabled Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard to highlight the possibilities of clean technologies and renewable forms of energy.

The team now aims to develop an “application for green technology”, Piccard said on Monday.

Piccard and Borschberg said a pilotless version of their machine could fly at a low altitude – around 20 kilometres – for months. Such a device could provide a wi-fi network in isolated areas, they explained.

Borschberg said they were now “assessing the benefits” of moving forward with such a project. 

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