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SolarDrone – a drone with solar panels for increased flight time

SolarDrone is a startup company that was established from the laboratory of National Taiwan University in partnership with specialists from photovoltaic and UAV technologies to overcome the limited flight time of most drones. The unmanned aerial vehicles with solar panels will be showcased at CES 2018.

SolarDrone’s foldable solar drone

SolarDrone’s unmanned aerial vehicle promises an increase in flight time, which typically is less than 30 minutes, of several hours depending on the weather and sun conditions. To achieve these lofty goals, the design team has strived to develop a very lightweight quadcopter with a very large surface to allow for the greatest possible solar panel area.

“At SolarDrone, we have combined the domain knowledge in the areas of photovoltaics, control, and communications to significantly extend the flight time of drones.” says Dr. Ching-Fuh Lin Founder, SolarDrone. “With this achievement it opens up the unlimited possibilities of what drones can do in the future.”

SolarDrone’s key features:

  • Hours of continuous flight
  • Excellent safety – No gasoline/battery, no explosion
  • Foldable frame and solar module – Easy for transportation and convenience
  • Gimbal stabilized – 4K/HD videos, 16M photos
  • Vertically take-off and landing – No need for runways

DroneDJ’s take

The company says that the new drone is not only suitable for recreational drone usage, but also opens up new possibilities for agricultural, security, rescue, and explorational usage. While we, at DroneDJ, applaud new cutting-edge design features and think that SolarDrone has come up with an innovative solution, we fear that the large solar panels will make the drone difficult to fly on days when there is the slightest of breeze. We are also concerned about applications where the drone would have to carry additional weight as would be needed for agricultural and rescue applications. The extra weight would diminish the flight-time as stronger motors or more energy would be required to carry the additional weight. We are skeptical that the solar panels would provide enough power to keep the drone in the air for any length of time. Keep in mind that the drone has no battery according to their specs.

We are looking forward to seeing a working prototype at CES 2018 (booth#52105).

Video shows a working prototype

What do you think about the SolarDrone? Let us know in the comments below.

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Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo