Alta Devices' solar technology selected to help power Hybrid Tiger UAV

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The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) will use Alta Devices’ “highly efficient, flexible, and light-weight” solar technology to help power the “breakthrough” Hybrid Tiger UAV.

​The Hybrid Tiger is a project designed to create a Group-2 UAV that will stay aloft for at least three and a half days, and Alta Devices says that technologies developed for the project will be applicable to other unmanned vehicles.

“Widespread use of small UAVs in both the military and industry has been limited to-date by endurance. The Hybrid Tiger will demonstrate that very long endurance flights, with sophisticated telemetry and capabilities, can be achieved with the inclusion of solar arrays,” says Jian Ding, Alta Devices CEO

“This project will open the door for many new solar powered UAV applications, and we look forward to achieving next generation breakthroughs via this cooperative effort.”

Through the Hybrid Tiger program, which is sponsored by the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy and the U. S. Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office, multiple technologies are integrated into a single UAS designed for long range endurance. The program will use “high-efficiency flexible solar cells,” a hydrogen fuel cell, and energy-aware guidance algorithms.

According to Alta Devices, the Hybrid Tiger UAV planned demonstration includes flights over several days, during the winter solstice, and as far North as 50 degrees latitude.

These flights will be used to highlight how extreme endurance UAV flight can be achieved using “hybridization of solar photovoltaics, a hydrogen fuel cell, and autonomous soaring algorithms,” regardless of latitude or time of year. The aircraft is expected to fly for multiple days without using traditional fuels.

According to a fact sheet provided by NRL, the multi-day endurance technology will enable a variety of applications such as low altitude communications enablement, atmospheric research, and search and rescue missions.