JUN 07, 2017 4:59 AM PDT

China Kept This Massive Solar-Powered Drone a Secret, Until Now

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

While everyone went about their daily lives as usual, China secretly flew a massive solar-powered drone high in the skies. It wasn’t until now that the country officially unveiled what it was working on – the world’s second largest solar-powered drone.

China has unveiled the world's second-largest solar-powered drone, capable of staying in flight for months at a time.

Image Credit: China Daily

The drone, which goes by the name of CH-T4, appears to be capable of staying in the skies for months, using the Sun’s renewable solar energy to stay in flight. During the most recent test-flight, China was able to keep it stable at an altitude of up to 65,000 feet, but it may be capable of more.

If this sort of thing sounds familiar, that’s because a solar plane dubbed Solar Impulse recently made an international trip around the globe to prove that solar power was a viable power source. On the other hand, Impulse is different from China’s aircraft, as Impulse is manned and China’s solar-powered drone is unmanned.

Related: Can we store solar energy in a liquid?

Designed specifically for domestic use, China’s solar-powered drone weighs almost 900 pounds and can fly as quickly as 125 miles per hour on nothing more than its eight electrically-powered propeller motors.

The long wingspan, which measures out to around 130 feet wide, which doubles as a large surface area for the solar panel array, helps the plane do a lot of gliding to conserve power.

Related: Europe is building its largest floating solar farm yet

If you were wondering what the world’s first-largest solar powered drone was, then you would have to turn your attention to NASA’s Helios, which is in its prototype stages and carries a super-wide wingspan of 246 feet – almost double that of China’s drone – and a maximum flying altitude that’s 30% higher than CH-T4.

Such drones could be useful for a host of different things, especially thanks to their long airtime capabilities. Some companies are working on drone-based cellular networks, while others are looking into using drones as surveillance systems.

China reportedly has plans to make its drone designs readily available to other countries so that they too can take advantage of its technologies.

It should be interesting to see where the future of unmanned solar-powered drone technology puts us, especially since the capabilities of these aircraft are rapidly evolving as battery and solar technology each become more powerful.

Source: Financial Express, Popular Science

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 25, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
NOV 25, 2019
eRapid: molecular diagnostic power in the palm of your hand
We've heard lofty biotech promises in the news of being able to diagnose diseases from a single drop of blood. Yet, diagnostic procedures for the maj...
DEC 06, 2019
Technology
DEC 06, 2019
Controlling the computer with your fingertips?
Would it be considered magic if you can control your computer screen with your fingertips? No, however, it is definitely technology! University of Waterloo...
DEC 23, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 23, 2019
Why NASA's Artemis Mission is So Important
If you’ve been following NASA, then you’ve undoubtedly heard about the American space agency’s Artemis mission. Artemis is all about laun...
FEB 15, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
FEB 15, 2020
FDA nod for AI-powered technology to detect strokes
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has provided clearance for a novel technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect strokes. The platf...
FEB 17, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
FEB 17, 2020
Graphene, the Toughest 2-D Material
An allotrope of carbon, graphene is a two-dimensional (2D) sheet of a nearly endless hexagonal network. In many of the studies conducted on this Nobel-winn...
FEB 21, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
FEB 21, 2020
New Antibiotics Found Using AI Technology
Using AI, researchers at MIT have found a powerful new antibiotic capable of killing some of the most dangerous drug-resistant bacteria known to man. ...
Loading Comments...