New solar plane unveiled by AGH UST students

Solar plane constructed by AGH Solar Plane team, photo: Andrzej Rusinowski, KSAF AGH

10 July 2019 saw a solar plane constructed by AGH UST students being showed for the first time to the general public. The unmanned machine powered exclusively by solar energy was unveiled on the premises of the Polish Aviation Museum in Cracow. It is the first student project of this type to have been delivered in Poland.

The solar plane constructed by the AGH Solar Plane Team has a wingspan of 3.8 metres, weighs only 5 kg and can reach the speed of approx. 50 kph depending on weather conditions. During the day, the plane uses power from 48 photovoltaic cells mounted on its wings. The cells generate between 150 and 180 W of power depending on the intensity of sunlight, which fully covers the plane’s power demand during the flight. Additionally, the cells store energy in lithium-ion batteries, thus allowing flight at night time or in cloudy sky conditions.

The mode of piloting the unmanned aircraft has been achieved by the team using the First Person View system. A special camera mounted in the aircraft uses a transmitter to send images to the plane’s operator. The pilot who steers and controls the flight from the ground can see everything that is happening to the plane using VR goggles. Additionally, thanks to a dedicated system, the pilot wearing the goggles can – using head movements – control servomechanisms that move the cameras installed in the aircraft, which ensures safety and failure-free performance during the flight.

The founders of the AGH Solar Plane Team were inspired by Solar Impulse 2 – the aircraft which successfully completed its round-the-world flight using exclusively solar energy. Thus, the next stage of the AGH UST project will be to complete an uninterrupted day-and-night flight across Poland relying solely on power generated by the sun. The mission has been scheduled for 2020.

The AGH Solar Plane Team is a student research society, whose aim it to promote modern technologies combining electrical mobility with renewable energy sources. The team set up in October 2017 boasts 50 members now and has already established a successful track record of participation in scientific conferences held in Japan and the United States. In September 2019 the AGH Solar Plane Team will enter the TÜBİTAK International Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Competition to be held in Istanbul as the only Polish team.