NRL TESTS AUTONOMOUS ‘SOARING WITH SOLAR’ CONCEPT
The Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Autonomous Soaring Base Programme and the US Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Energy Office want to improve the ability of UAVs to support 24 x 7 information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. Researchers at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Vehicle Research Section and Photovoltaic Section are building on the proven concept of autonomous cooperative soaring of UAVs. Their research investigates the presence of solar PV to the cooperative autonomous soaring techniques, which enables long-endurance flights of unmanned sailplanes that use the power of the sun. By doing so, the warfighter will greatly benefit because it will reduce the amount of batteries or fuel they must carry into battle, and improve the availability of continuous coverage of ISR assets.