Queensland University of Technology engineers are creating a solar-powered UAV capable of providing 24-hour coverage to emergency services.
Designed by PHD student Wessam Al Sabban and aerospace avionics engineering supervisor Dr Felipe Gonzalez, the Green Falcon solar UAV has completed its preliminary flight testing and with further development and funding, could be available for use in the next year.
Dr Gonzalez said that as the aircraft is fitted with infrared cameras, a natural application of the UAV could be providing remote sensing and visual data capability to monitor fires or other disasters. “Unlike manned aircraft, which have restricted air time, unmanned aerial vehicles could provide 24 hours surveillance and coverage of disaster areas,” he said.
“Solar energy runs the Green Falcon by day and charges its battery for night power, which discharges slowly until morning when a new cycle starts.”
The team designed the solar UAV for the RMIT University 2009 Design Challenge – Fire, which challenged researchers and specialists to generate design proposals in response to bushfire events, including fire prevention and planning, emergency response, mitigation of fire impact, and post-fire regeneration in communities. The Green Falcon was one of only six finalists from more than 75 researchers, industry and community experts, and 35 projects.