Dutch tech startup Avy completes successful test flight with first solar fixed-wing drone
Dutch solar drone manufacturer Avy announced a successful test flight of its first solar fixed-wing drone, equipped with custom solar foil developed by Wattlab to reflect and absorb more sunlight.
The solar-powered prototype is designed to be used for urgent medical transport, support emergency services and nature conservation initiatives. The successful test flight marks a milestone for the co-operating technology companies bringing long-haul flights one step closer to being emission-free. The findings will be incorporated into future Avy models.
Patrique Zaman, Founder of Avy said: "Our goal at Avy is to accelerate the transition towards sustainable aviation. By integrating solar cells into our wings, we make use of the cleanest energy available. The Avy drone has wings and is able to transport life-saving medicines by air in Europe and Africa, as well as support first aid services in Europe. Our test flight in September with the solar prototype, showed promising results and was a first step towards a longer flight time.”
The gain was found in the wings, while maintaining aerodynamics and without increasing the weight. This offers potential for the future. A lower wing weight, a larger wing area and more solar cells on the wings are all within reach. Solar cells with a higher efficiency will be tested in the coming months. Since Avy is used for medical projects in Africa where the sun holds infinite potential, a solar drone can travel longer distances bringing wider deployability opportunities to reach more people.
Just like previous Avy drones, the solar drone flies electrically, emission-free, fully autonomous and can take off and land vertically, also known as VTOL. The big difference with the previously developed fixed-wing drone is that the solar drone is charged by solar energy. For this technique Avy has collaborated with solar energy specialist Wattlab, who developed a strong but lightweight 'solar skin' that was used as the outer layer of the fibreglass wings. This way the drone generates extra energy while flying.
Bo Salet, founder of Wattlab said: "The solar technology developed in this project is fully integrated into the wing shape and does not add any extra weight. The technology of the drone can serve as a stepping stone towards more sustainable developments in the aviation and transport sectors.”