The University of Maryland created history when they managed to lift off their solar-powered helicopter, Solar Gamera. This is the first time ever that a piloted, solar-powered helicopter has gone airborne, and remained in the air for nine seconds.
The project is headed by materials science major Michelle Mahon, which helped in making the 100-square-foot Solar Gamera fly twice. The solar panels were created by the students themselves, and the craft uses electronic controls for manoeuvring. And the doctorate student William Staruk, a member of the Solar Gamera team, believes that the team can build on the nine second time to allow Solar Gamera fly for longer periods of time.
Gamera has been making headlines for several years now. Back in 2011, the Gamera project made the longest human-powered flight in the United States and also set the record for the longest human-powered flight by a woman in the world. Gamera II then broke the record of highest altitude being reached by a human-powered helicopter. And from 2014, students changed the structure of the helicopter by adding solar power to the design.
Staruk said in the video, “This project has come a long way in the past six of seven years from human power to solar power. So we are breaking barriers of all sorts of aviation with this one airframe.”
According to Solar Gamera faculty advisor Inderjit Chopra, “This is about inspiring and educating students, that’s our product here. No one thought that solar energy could lift a person [via helicopter].”
Would you like a test flight in the first ever solar powered helicopter? Let us know in the comments’ section below!