Drone powered by solar energy

13-09-2021    07:37   |    Agritech Tomorrow

Just like a satellite, SolarXOne is packed with technologies. Half airplane, half drone, this UAV weighs 25 kg, has a 4.50 m wingspan, and is innovative in several ways.

XSun designs and manufactures a drone that is both energy-independent and can make its own decisions, for fully-automated missions. The company needed reliable, high-performance sub-assemblies to design it's SolarXOne. This is why the start-up approached maxon for the propulsion system.


Benjamin David, benefiting from a decade of experience at Airbus Defense & Space, created the company XSun based on a rather simple idea: Adapting space technologies for use at lower altitude. This approach produced SolarXOne: A solar-powered, electrical, self-contained drone with a tandem wing design. SolarXOne, with its dragonfly-like design, has excellent aerodynamic performance and a large surface area of solar panels, to collect as much solar energy as possible. This is all within a very high-performance, fully-electric environment.

“We firmly believe that a combination of new technologies and renewable energy sources will best meet current environmental, economic, and societal challenges,” says Benjamin David. He also points out that solar power increases the on-board battery life by a factor of 3.

Just like a satellite, SolarXOne is packed with technologies. Half airplane, half drone, this UAV weighs 25 kg, has a 4.50 m wingspan, and is innovative in several ways:

  • Easy to use: SolarXOne is as easy to operate as a drone, but with the high-performance of an aircraft.
  • Fast deployment: Ready to fly in 30 minutes.
  • Range: 12 hours of non-stop flight.
  • Silent: As the drone is fully-electric, it flies without making any noise.
  • Excellent handling: This is due to its aerodynamic configuration combined with the technical choices implemented.
  • Reliable: Back-up systems to ensure a high-degree of reliability for users.
  • Low-maintenance: All-electric devices require little maintenance.
  • Ability to fly day or night: On-board batteries that are charged by solar power.
  • Exceptional payload capacity: Gyroscopes, high-performance cameras, thermal imaging cameras, LIDAR, etc.: SolarXOne can carry up to 5 kg of payload, including the latest communication and safety technologies.
  • A system compliant with aeronautical standards: This means the UAV can be certified to the highest level and easily obtain flight authorization worldwide.

A wide range of applications

SolarXOne, with a daily flight range of 600 km, can fly over thousands of acres, producing image resolution of cm accuracy. Consequently many sectors are interested in the drone for a wide variety of missions:

  • Mapping and topography of large areas on land or at sea, such as nature reserves,
  • Very high-resolution photographic surveys for large-scale linear infrastructure (pipelines, electricity lines, roads, rivers, etc.),
  • Photographic surveys for precision agriculture, in the context of forest mapping, for example,
  • Monitoring and inspection missions.

XSun markets its drone, but also offers SolarXOne services via its operations team. The team flies the drone on behalf of clients who just want to collect data.

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Photo Courtesy of Agritech Tomorrow

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