Extending the Endurance and Capabilities of the Raven/Puma UAVs Using Advanced Flexible Solar Cells
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Uncertainty and chaos are inherent in all combat operations. In an effort to reduce the uncertainty and improve situational awareness of ground forces, Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) have been employed to provide real-time video and images of the battlefield. A major limitation of SUAS is the limited flight endurance provided by the air vehicles (AV) battery. In this research, investigation of extending the flight endurance by augmenting the AV power supply with single junction Photovoltaic (PV) cells is conducted. The fully integrated system was experimentally tested to show the feasibility and limitations of augmenting the AV power supply with a PV array. The integrated Raven AV was successful in significantly extending the endurance in spite of non-ideal test conditions and limitation in PV array assembly; the AV endurance was more than doubled producing an increased flight time of 125.6%.
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