C-ASTRAL signs agreement with Alta to provide solar cells for long endurance UAVs

2nd November 2016
Alta’s solar technology allows C-Astral to offer long endurance small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for remote surveying and sensing

C-Astral Aerospace and Alta Devices have announced that Alta’s solar technology will be used to significantly extend the endurance for the most sophisticated of C-Astral’s next generation unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Details of the agreement are not being disclosed.

C-Astral’s latest system, called the Bramor ppX-LRS (long range solar), can fly at least two hours longer with the addition of Alta’s solar technology. This new Bramor enables highly efficient and precise global surveying and sensing capabilities in remote and urban areas. One example application is mapping and surveying of long stretches of road from the sky -- finishing the project in only a few days without disrupting traffic; if done from the ground, this kind of work would take two to three months of road closures.  The beyond-line-of-sight capability of the UAV, together with its advanced gas detection and SWIR (short wave infrared) sensors is also suited for pipeline monitoring, replacing manned aircraft systems and helicopters at a fraction of the cost.  Alternatively, these aircraft can dramatically accelerate and reduce the cost of surveying major railway lines and power line infrastructure. 

“From the time of our founding, we have known that solar technology is useful for extending flight times and have continuously pursued it,” said Marko Peljhan, C-Astral co-founder.  “Alta’s solar technology is the only mature option on the market that allows us to achieve extended flight times without compromising our high performance aircraft design.”

“C-Astral has an incredible track record of innovation,” said Rich Kapusta, Chief Marketing Officer at Alta Devices, “There are very few companies with the deep expertise required to develop this type of aircraft, and we are extremely proud to be working with them on this endeavor.”

Alta Devices designs and manufactures thin and flexible solar technology and is attempting to revolutionize the endurance of unmanned systems. The company recently announced that it had achieved another world record of 31.6 percent solar efficiency with its newest cells. The new C-Astral BRAMOR ppX air-frame is made of advanced composite materials (Kevlar/Carbon/Vectran) that provide a high level of survivability. Compared with a standard Bramor, the Alta enhanced LRS version adds less than two ounces of weight, while increasing flight time to about 5.5 hours.

The company says its new system is the leading all-electric, high productivity UAV for global surveying and remote sensing in remote areas (where access to fuel is an issue), and in urban areas (where pollution and noise must be contained). The Bramor ppX has an operational ceiling of 14,000 feet and is capable of operating in winds of up to 25 knots.  Embedded autonomous flight procedures include an array of fail-safe options based on man-rated standards. It is equipped with a high rate GNSS receiver and IMU precision data-logging electronics.

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