Autonomous aerial vehicles known as High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) can soar at the edges of space for long periods of time. These act as telecommunications relays or environmental monitors. UAVOS has just completed the test flights of its ApusDuo prototype, an autonomous solar-powered aircraft with flexible wings.
HAPS vehicles have been going into the skies for a number of years for various purposes and UAVOS has just entered the fold with their ApusDuo aircraft. The aircraft is made up of two parallel sets of wings that are connected by three struts in a configuration that is common to HAPS machines.
A series of solar panels run along the width of the wings and are used to power the plane. These are controlled by a small onboard computer. The CPU is designed in order to control and flex the aircraft’s wings during flight and to handle the steering in order to keep it airborne in changing weather and wind conditions.
The ApusDuo prototype has a 46-ft wingspan and weighs 15 kg. It just completed its first set of test flights and UAVOS has reported that the aircraft has spent more than a 1,000 hours in the air at an altitude of 66 ft. This is nothing compared to the goal of 50,000 ft but shows how the flexible wings allow the plane to remain airborne even in turbulence.
The team behind the aircraft says that the kind of control setup gives the aircraft the ability to operate at more northern latitudes than are normally possible. You can check out the test flight in the video below: