ENHANCING THE ENDURANCE OF THE SWITCHBLADE 300 UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE USING THIN-FILM PHOTOVOLTAICS

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Authors
Valeske, Jared M.
Subjects
solar
drone
CIGS
thin-film
photovoltaic
unmanned aerial vehicle
UAV
unmanned aircraft system
UAS
Switchblade
Advisors
Michael, Sherif N.
Date of Issue
2022-12
Date
Publisher
Monterey, CA; Naval Postgraduate School
Language
Abstract
Previous research has demonstrated the operational benefits of supplementing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) with solar power. With limits to energy storage based on aircraft cost and weight, supplementing aircraft power systems with solar technology can meet modern requirements with current technology. The focus of this research is to determine the potential increase in the range and endurance of the AeroVironment Switchblade 300 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) through the inclusion of advanced thin-film flexible solar cells. In lieu of a fully operational test aircraft, the research developed a prototype solar enhanced Switchblade 300 using comparable components and a production Switchblade 300 airframe to conduct real world experimentation in the feasibility of solar enhancement. The research also extrapolated empirical data to estimate the effects of solar enhancement on similar Group 1 UAS. A 23.7% increase in endurance was achieved on the prototype solar enhanced Switchblade 300 and a more than 83.3% increase is feasible using higher efficiency solar cells. More than a 108% increase is theoretically feasible for the Switchblade 600 UAV based on scaled empirical data. These findings indicate that current production small electric tube-launched UAS have significant potential for improvement and could leverage future advances in solar technology to gain significant technological advantages for the warfighter.
Type
Thesis
Description
Series/Report No
Department
Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE)
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Distribution Statement
Approved for public release. Distribution is unlimited.
Rights
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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