No limits for next-gen solar powered drones

Imagine if we could tap into the incredible potential of solar power and create a network of flying sensors that will help monitor our planet more effectively, from weather surveillance, oceanic and geological observation to air pollutants tracking.

This is the vision of French startup XSun. The company develops solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It recently completed a successful 12-hour endurance test flight with its SolarXOne model. The drone travelled 600km with payload, powered solely by its high-performance batteries and photovoltaic cells across its wings to maximize solar energy collection. The test proved that long-range, clean, carbon free drone flights are now possible, helping to expand the field of possibilities that were previously unreachable by UAVs.

Not only is the SolarXOne energy independent, it is also extremely light, aerodynamic and completely autonomous. The sophisticated drone takes advantage of the latest artificial intelligence technologies to detect objects automatically, avoid obstacles and alert the control center. Its clever design is the product of an alliance between advanced aeronautical studies and high-performance tools. As part of this, XSun joined Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Lab where it is able to access the power of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, technical support and a community of experts for ongoing mentoring to accelerate product development.

“The Lab makes it possible to do everything faster because we benefit from their rich ecosystem,” said Andrea Viti, aerodynamic and aerothermal engineer at XSun. “The preliminary design of the complete aircraft took less than a year—fast for such a complex system.”

CEO Benjamin David praised the value of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform in helping his team work on the overall structure of the drone and its subsystems, saying it “enables us to design and consolidate all our data on a single location, to keep a unique, clear and clean configuration of all the subsystems,” David said.

To find out more about XSun’s exciting partnership with the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab and how it’s bringing its energy-independent, autonomous flight vision to life thanks to the Reinvent The Sky industry solution experience, read the full story here and watch the videos below.

PS: we also invite you to discover how XSun founder Benjamin David is making a difference as a sustainability pioneer. Watch the video here.

Rebecca Lambert

Rebecca Lambert

Rebecca Lambert is a UK-based freelance journalist and copywriter.