Solar/electric-powered drone takes to the air

Silent Falcon, a small unmanned aerial vehicle that uses solar/electric power, has performed its first flight.

By Richard Tomkins

THORNTON, Colo., May 20 (UPI) -- A production solar/electric-powered tactical unmanned aerial system has successfully performed first flights, its U.S. makers said Monday.

The drone is called Silent Falcon, an easily deployed system, created by Ascent Solar Technologies Inc., Silent Falcon UAS Technologies and Bye AEROSPACE.


The aircraft weighs 25 pounds and has a 12-hour endurance. It features an interchangeable wing configuration and integrated, ultra-thin film photovoltaic modules. Its makers say it is suitable for military, public safety and commercial applications.

"These first flights represent the culmination of tremendous collaboration between Ascent Solar, Bye AEROSPACE, and Silent Falcon UAS," said Dr. Joseph Armstrong, chief technology officer of Ascent Solar. "Overcoming technological challenges, our teams have demonstrated the ability to integrate our flexible photovoltaics with appropriate power management systems into a feature-rich small unmanned aircraft system enabling extended mission flight time and, as a result, enhanced mission flexibility.

"More importantly, the photovoltaic modules integrated into the wings represent a lightweight version of our production materials, and as such, are immediately available."

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