Solar-powered drones are commonly called solar-electrically powered fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles that display significant flight endurance over entirely electrical or even gas-operated aerial vehicles. Under appropriate environment situations, a solar-powered drone (UAV) stores surplus energy during the daytime which then keeps the aircraft powered throughout the night. The key driving factors responsible for the growth of the solar-powered drones market include the demand for heavy surveillance for crime investigations.
Additionally, the rising rate of traffic and road accidents has been increasing lately. Heavy endurance capability is particularly a matter of interest for applications such as large-scale mapping, observation, or telecommunication relay. Such specifications can be applied in search and rescue (SAR) missions, industrial or agricultural inspection, meteorological surveys, border patrol, air surveillance, etc. Technically, a solar-powered drone is designed to fly at a low altitude with efficient energy. Batteries are used during flight operations and while batteries are fully charged, excess energy is used to gain potential energy. The airframe design is built in the traditional rib-spar construction method.
The wing’s pivot element is an inner cylindrical carbon-fiber spar used as a resistance towing load. Trapezoidal belts comprising four-carbon belts and a varying cross-section are attached to the spar to optimally resist bending of solar cells and the main wing can be disassembled into three-wing pieces of less than 2mm each. Further, energy generation and storage consist of cylindrical wing spars fitted with high energy density Lithium-Ion batteries to enhance the distribution of mass in a span loader. Avionics is mainly operated around a pixhawk PX4 autopilot which is open-source and open hardware with a Cortex M4 microprocessor running at 168 MHz and 192Kb RAM.
On a commercial scale, innovative technologies coupled with favorable funding for R&D in solar-powered drones are a significant dynamic to the solar-powered drones market growth. Commercial domains such as energy, entertainment, telecommunications, journalism, and governments are now emphasizing the viability of solar-powered drones. Therefore, market dynamics coupled with market driving factors enable fertile opportunities for market growth and sustenance during the forecast period. To monitor the road mishaps and report for timely delivery marks the significance of solar-powered drones. The device is also known to deliver stats on the number of vehicles passing per day on a particular highway which is again important to understand traffic scenarios in a particular area. However, power consumption and limited mode of operation are likely to hamper the market growth during the forecast period.
Based on application, the global solar-powered drones market is segmented into energy, agriculture, government & defense, telecommunication, media & entertainment. Based on geographic segmentation, the global solar-powered drones market spans North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and Africa. North America dominates the global market during the forecast period owing to defense and military operations. Latin America is anticipated to grow during the forecast period owing to the expansion of solar-powered drone capacities.
APAC markets such as India, China, Japan, Australia, Singapore are now turning towards the adoption of this technology resulting out of social and security needs. Middle-East and African regions are anticipated to grow at a slower rate during the forecast period owing to slow growth in technological advancements. The key players in the global solar-powered drones market include Boeing Phantom Works, Google (Titan Aerospace), and Airbus (QinetiQ), Facebook (Ascenta), AeroVironment/NASA, Lockheed Martin (Hale-D), Bye Engineering, and Atlantik Solar.
Research Support Specialist, USA
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