The world of unmanned aviation technology has entered a new phase of development and commerciality with the launch of the SUNLINK-5 a solar-powered drone aircraft capable of flying all day long at low to medium altitudes.
Developed by Sunlight Photonics Inc., the SUNLINK-5 is being marketed as an ideal solution for wildlife monitoring, border patrol, surveillance, precision agriculture, land surveys and wireless communications, and has been made commercially available by its creators.
Powered exclusively by solar energy, the SUNLINK-5 UAV can fly for longer than any other drone aircraft in its weight class. It is distinct from previous solar-powered drones in that it is a durable aircraft designed for multiple flights, launches and landings, and is capable of flying through strong headwinds, turbulence and demanding weather conditions.
The frame of the SUNLINK-5 has been constructed using integrated solar cells delivering highly efficient solar performance of up to 100 W of power. The aircraft can carry payloads of up to 5kg and operate at altitudes of 10,000 feet. It also comes equipped with remote autopilot, ground control station and relevant software, making it a true plug-and-play addition to the burgeoning industry of solar-powered aviation.
In April, Google bought solar-powered drone company Titan Aerospace in a deal thought to be worth many millions of dollars. That acquisition followed closely on the heels of Facebooks $20 million purchase of Ascenta a U.K.-based aerospace company that has specialized in solar-powered aviation technology for the past few years.