A defense company is building a drone that can fly continuously for one year

drone can fly for one full year rs77003 rs76869 mountains7
BAE Systems

An average drone has a flight time of around 10 to 20 minutes. Record-breaking drones, meanwhile, can eke out anything from a few hours to, in the case of one diesel-powered drone, a few days. None of these can hope to hold a candle to a new solar electric unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) being developed by cutting-edge British companies, BAE Systems and Prismatic.

They are collaborating on the development of a new high-altitude, long-endurance drone called PHASA-35, which aims to achieve flight times of anywhere up to an astonishing 12 months. To do this, it will use a combination of long-life battery technology and ultra-lightweight solar cells that will allow it to power itself using the sun’s rays.

This isn’t your ordinary drone, of course. It has a wingspan of 35 meters, which is around half that of a Boeing 747. However, it is also extraordinarily light, weighing just 150 kilos — or 0.05 percent of the 747’s maximum takeoff weight. The craft has been in development for the past two years, and a quarter-scale model took to the skies in 2017 for a test flight. The team developing it is hoping that the real thing will be ready for test flights of two production prototypes sometime in the second half of 2019.

“PHASA-35 is an air vehicle that is being developed to be capable of flying in the stratosphere at 70,000 feet above the earth, and is anticipated to fly for up to a whole year at a time,” a spokesperson from BAE Systems told Digital Trends. “The platform can achieve these previously unseen performance characteristics due to its extremely lightweight and innovative carbon fiber construction, coupled with its highly efficient solar panels which are able to power the vehicle and also charge the batteries for nighttime operation.”

BAE’s spokesperson said that they perceive multiple uses for the craft, including communications, providing GPS coverage to remote areas, and optical imaging.

If the name BAE Systems sounds familiar, that is because it has previously been behind such science fiction-sounding projects as military drones which can be “grown” using chemistry in large-scale labs and energy-scattering deflector shields. The fact that this latest project arguably isn’t its most ambitious sounding concept yet speaks volumes about how much exciting work the company is engaged in!

Emerging Tech

Hikers missing on Mount Fuji could soon find a drone buzzing above their heads

Hikers who go missing while climbing Japan's highest mountain could soon find a drone buzzing above their head. A new system using the flying machines has been set up on Mount Fuji for future search-and-rescue missions.
Emerging Tech

DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs Mavic 2 Zoom: What’s the real difference?

DJI's Mavic 2 series drones are ready to fly -- but which one is right for you? The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are nearly identical save for their cameras. Here's what you need to know about these powerful new UAVs.
Emerging Tech

This fully autonomous $400 drone folds like a book, follows you like a paparrazzo

Having a drone that could follow you everywhere while taking high-quality images without crashing has been a flight of fantasy. With ZeroZero's Hover 2, not only can you have a fully autonomous 4K selfie drone, you can have it for $400.
Cars

Car parts maker ZF is using drones to deliver components to its factories

ZF recently became the first entity in Germany to receive approval to use drones to deliver spare parts, and the company now uses them to deliver parts from its central warehouses to its workshops.
Cars

The world’s first 3D-printed titanium wheels are so intricate they look fake

HRE Performance Wheels and GE Additive have teamed up to create the world's first 3D-printed titanium wheels. They are not only impressively durable, but extremely lightweight as well.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Emerging Tech

This startup will sequence your entire genome for free — but there’s a catch

Want to get your DNA sequenced but don’t want to shell out the hundred bucks or so to do so? A new startup called Nebula Genomics offers you the opportunity to have it done for free.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best tech gear and gadgetry that survived Shark Tank

The television show "Shark Tank" has churned out quite a few strange, interesting, and downright awesome products -- so we rounded up some of the best ones for your perusal. Enjoy!
Emerging Tech

Students who designed transforming smart home will compete in Solar Decathalon

Modular smart homes are all the rage, and now some students from Virginia Tech are putting their money on their FutureHAUS, a modular, solar-powered, transforming smart home they're taking to the Solar Decathlon in Dubai.
Emerging Tech

Hotter than the sun: Chinese fusion reactor claims breakthrough

China’s “artificial sun” has reached a temperature of 180 million ºF with a heating power of 10 megawatts -- six times hotter than the center of the sun. The achievement could mark progress towards fusion as a clean energy source.
Emerging Tech

Hope it doesn’t melt! Rocket to ISS carries vital supplies — including ice cream

A rocket has launched over Virginia's eastern shore, carrying supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Inside the spacecraft are supplies for the ISS itself and the crew onboard, such as scientific equipment and food.
Emerging Tech

‘Super-Earth’ discovered orbiting nearby star

Astronomers have discovered a large planet circling a sun nearby to Earth called Barnard's Star. The potential new planet is thought to be cold and icy and has a size of around 3.2 times the Earth.
Emerging Tech

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully tests its asteroid-sampling arm

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, launched in September 2016, is closing in on its target of the Bennu asteroid. The craft has now unfurled its robotic arm, called the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), and tested it successfully.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?