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Superwake SW-96 : Long Endurance Solar Powered UAV

Superwake

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Our team has been working away at building a solar+electric UAV designed to carry out large mapping projects. The SW-96 Solar Plane can fly for up to 72 hours with a 2 kg payload and cover 150 hectares per hr. We recently conducted a 10 hour flight test and wanted to share the update. Video below, let me know if you guys have any questions.

 
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R.Perry

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Interesting, but you need a trailer to haul it around. Max altitude 10,000 feet that should make the FAA real happy. I would think belly landing aren't the best thing for camera gear. 40km communication, great, so much for line of sight operations.

It does seem like a very good idea, how much time does it take to take it apart and put it back together when moving from one location to another?

The flight time is outstanding and for covering very large areas would save a great deal of time.
 

Superwake

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Interesting, but you need a trailer to haul it around. Max altitude 10,000 feet that should make the FAA real happy. I would think belly landing aren't the best thing for camera gear. 40km communication, great, so much for line of sight operations.

It does seem like a very good idea, how much time does it take to take it apart and put it back together when moving from one location to another?

The flight time is outstanding and for covering very large areas would save a great deal of time.
Hi R.Perry, very good points. I will try to address as many of your concerns as possible.

1) The UAV disassembles into a box that can be mounted ontop of a standard vehicle or placed in the back of a pickup truck.
2) Could you please clarify the concern with 10,000 ft. max altitude? The operator doesn't have to fly above what they are limited to by regulations. However, it is possible (depending on the jurisdiction) to get approval to fly at higher altitudes, and we hope with regulatory changes that will become common. In Canada, above forest fires, air traffic is shut down (Class F Airspace) and only fire departments can operate, which allows the UAV to maneuver at any altitude above the fire and capture infrared data.
3) The payload system is protected inside the fuselage. Also, belly landings are extremely soft and due to the very low stall speed of the UAV, actual stopping distance on grass/dirt is only a few yards. It's a trade off between long endurance and vertical take off and landing, which is extremely inefficient from an aerodynamics perspective.
4) The UAV is designed to operate beyond line of site, the 40 km range is the max we can achieve for video transmission. However, we are looking to add satellite communications to be able to fly several hundred km from a base station.
5) It currently takes about 30 minutes for our team to assemble and go through the pre flight check list. We are working on making the assembly simpler and check list shorter.
 
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R.Perry

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Thanks for your informative reply. Where I see this being a perfect application is agricultural mapping and plant health, especially when you have a few thousand acres to manage.
Also the large cattle ranches this would be a great tool for keeping track of cattle locations on the large ranches.
As you know in the US we have line of sight restrictions or need a waiver to fly beyond. With upcoming technologies that will help keep aircraft separation I believe this could be a tremendously valuable option for higher altitude flights.

What is the price on this drone?
 

Superwake

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Glad you mentioned those applications, we are actively looking into them. We have been trying to get in touch with operators in that space to get their feedback and see how we can tailor our design for their needs.

We currently don't have a set price for the UAV, but it would be approximately $35k USD with a basic ground station and no payload.
 
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R.Perry

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Actually that isn't a bad price, especially if you can get a satellite link, that would be incredible.
I assume you will be including ADS-B transponders in this bird.
 
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