Drone in mid flight with the solar panel
The inspiration behind pursuing a drone/UAV project was the really cool applications behind drones/UAV. As we all know, the drone market has seen a boom in activity and now is transferring over to the industry and commercial sector with companies like Qualcomm working on 5G drone control and Ehang 184 just recently announcing to commercially sell drones capable of holding two persons. There is one thing however that is the major bottleneck from turning the already booming drone industry to the next gold rush, that is the life time of the drone while in flight. Companies can advertise saying that the possibilities for drones are endless, and thats all well and good; however, this "endless" possibilities and determined by one thing only which is how long can the drone stay in the air. That's why we were inspired to try to tackle the issue of the dying drone battery, which in return, would have the capabilities of transforming our energy environment in transportation and disrupting key industries.
What it does
Our drone has embedded a solar panel designed with a voltage regulation algorithm that allows for the simultaneous charging and powering of the drones battery and onboard computer.
How I built it
We built the drone from scratch and programmed the onboard flight computer. We then designed a 3D printed holder for the hardware components and the solar panel.
Challenges I ran into
The major setback for us was getting the drone to recognize the inputs from our transmitter. What made it worse was that there was a loud beeping noise coming from the drone that indicated that our drone's electronic speed controllers weren't recognizing the transmitter.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
WE GOT THE MOTORS TO DO SOMETHING AND FLY!!! Also we were able to get the drones onboard flight computer solely powered by the solar panel.
What I learned
A lot about hardware. How to integrate the software we built with the drones hardware was a big thing that we learned. Also programming flight controller as well as transmitters was also something we learned.
What's next for Solaris
What would be really cool is to design an algorithm that auto detects paths were there is more light and will fly in that path whether it will save battery. Also designing a shell for the drone that is covered with solar panels which will increase the efficiency of the panel.