Aurora Flights Sciences, an American aviation and aeronautics research subsidiary of Boeing, has recently published a press release revealing its newest product – a solar-powered unmanned aircraft called Odysseus.
How does Odysseus work?
This high-altitude pseudo-satellite features the largest payload capacity available. Providing an ultra-long endurance, high-altitude platform, Odysseus relies on nothing more than the sun as its source of power. This is made possible via the use of advanced solar cells and lightweight materials that make it a truly environmentally friendly aircraft.
How did it come to being?
It all started 30 years ago. The team behind Odysseus launched the Daedalus Project. In 1988, the Daedalus delivered groundbreaking results like setting records in distance and for human-powered flight. Behind that project stood Aurora President and CEO John Langford and his MIT colleagues who later founded Aurora.
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In the words of Mr. Langford, the idea behind Aurora was that technology and innovation can offer powerful solutions to problems affecting the entire world. The idea of Odysseus came into being out of Daedalus and is a true breakthrough on the path of addressing problems of climate change and other atmospheric chemistry problems.
He believes Odysseus is bound to change the world, offering persistence better than any other solar aircraft out there, at the same time providing a capable and necessary platform for climate change researchers.
This autonomous aircraft is different from all the other solar aircraft out there. First of all, it can autonomously remain on station, enabling communication and data gathering over a specific location. Second, it has a greater year-round global operating zone than other aircraft in its class. It can also carry a much larger payload than other vehicles. This allows it to have more missions and better quality of data on each mission.
Last, but not least important, Odysseus’s deployment costs less than a satellite and it can spend significantly more time aloft than a conventional unmanned aerial vehicle. Utilizing its immense capabilities, Odysseus can measure things like vegetation, ice coverage, flow rates, as well as ground moisture.
According to its creators at Aurora, Odysseus will “spread its wings” for the first time in the spring of 2019.
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Photo credit: All shown images are owned by Aurora Flight Sciences.
Source: Aurora Flight Sciences press release.
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