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  • Writer's pictureAkshata Shendge

The Future of Solar-Powered Drones

Atlantiksolar: A solar powered drone
Atlantiksolar: A solar powered drone | Credits- Atlantik Solar by ETH Zurich


In a world increasingly conscious of its environmental footprint, the quest for sustainable and efficient energy solutions is more pertinent than ever. One such frontier where innovation meets sustainability is the development of solar-powered drones. Among these, the AtlantikSolar, created by the Autonomous Systems Laboratory (ASL), stands as a testament to the potential of harnessing the sun's energy for extended and eco-friendly aerial operations. In this article, we explore the capabilities of solar-powered drones, focusing on the groundbreaking AtlantikSolar and its application in glacial monitoring.

Solar-Powered Drones:

Solar power has long been hailed as a clean and renewable energy source, and its integration into the realm of unmanned aerial vehicles has opened new possibilities. Solar-powered drones leverage photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electric power, eliminating the need for traditional fuel sources and extending flight times considerably. As the demand for sustainable technology grows, these solar-powered marvels are gaining attention for their potential in various applications, ranging from environmental monitoring to surveillance and beyond.


The AtlantikSolar, a product of the Autonomous Systems Laboratory (ASL), is at the forefront of solar-powered drone technology. This unmanned aerial vehicle has been engineered for endurance, capable of flying for multiple days on end. This groundbreaking innovation addresses a critical need for researchers, particularly glaciologists from ETH Zurich, who deploy UAVs to monitor glaciers in Greenland. The vast and challenging glacial landscape demands extended flight times, and AtlantikSolar rises to the occasion, harnessing the power of the sun to overcome traditional limitations.

The Arctic Advantage: Endless Daylight, Endless Flight:

One of the key advantages of solar-powered drones, particularly exemplified by the AtlantikSolar, lies in their compatibility with continuous daylight conditions. In the Arctic Summer, where the sun shines ceaselessly, traditional drones often grapple with limited flight times due to battery constraints. Enter the solar-powered solution. The AtlantikSolar thrives in this environment, tapping into the uninterrupted sunlight to charge its batteries and extend its mission duration. This capability proves invaluable for scientific endeavors, such as glacial monitoring, where prolonged, uninterrupted flights are essential.

Applications Beyond Glacial Monitoring:

While the AtlantikSolar has found its niche in glacial monitoring, the applications of solar-powered drones extend far beyond icy landscapes. These sustainable aerial vehicles are well-suited for environmental surveillance, precision agriculture, and disaster response. The ability to operate for extended periods without the need for refueling positions solar-powered drones as game-changers in scenarios where prolonged, uninterrupted data collection is crucial.

Atlantiksolar flying | Credits- Atlantik Solar by ETH Zurich

Despite their promising potential, solar-powered drones face challenges such as limited power generation during cloudy days and the weight of the added solar panels impacting their agility. However, ongoing research and development are addressing these challenges, aiming to enhance efficiency and overcome obstacles. Future iterations of solar-powered drones may feature advanced solar cell technologies, improved energy storage systems, and streamlined designs, further maximizing their capabilities.


Solar-powered drones, epitomized by the remarkable AtlantikSolar, are reshaping the landscape of unmanned aerial vehicles. Beyond being a technological marvel, these drones represent a sustainable and eco-friendly approach to aerial operations. As innovations in solar technology continue to unfold, the potential applications of solar-powered drones are boundless. From scientific research in remote regions to environmental monitoring and disaster response, these drones are poised to become integral players in shaping a more sustainable and resilient future. The sun is not just a celestial body; it's a boundless source of energy propelling drones toward new heights of endurance and environmental responsibility.


Akshata is a writer based in Bengaluru, India. She is known for her deep passion for drones and

her ability to overcome challenges in this rapidly-evolving industry. She has spent countless hours researching and experimenting with

various drone models, honing her skills as a pilot and innovator. She continues to inspire others with her passion for innovation and her commitment to pushing the boundaries of what's possible with drone technology.

LinkedIn: @akshata Topmate: @akshata


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