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A reference design for integrated solar and lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery power systems for small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has been developed. The collaboration between US-based Alta Devices and the UK’s PowerOasiswill combines Alta Devices’ solar technology with PowerOasis’ expertise in hybrid power systems. As reported on, the proposed design is expected to help small UAV developers to exclusively focus on aircraft design and performance.

Planned to be released later this year, the new device will also feature modular power systems. Management of the battery packs will be carried out using a cell vendor agnostic, flexible battery management system (BMS). It will also include communication to ground control and onboard autopilot capability, with the provision of receiving continuous real-time power and energy data. Conditioned power outputs for critical power and payload systems will also be included.

“By working together and providing a complete architecture for a well-crafted power system, PowerOasis and Alta Devices are streamlining the UAV development process.” Alta Devices chief marketing officer Rich Kapusta explained. “In the past, a UAV manufacturer had to work with multiple companies to obtain the solar technology, downstream electronics, and power management software to create a solar/Li-ion hybrid powered system. Then, they had to design the system themselves. We’re providing a complete system for electric aircraft and UAVs, eliminating the distraction and time required to focus on the intricacies of power design.”

Unlike typical battery-powered UAVs, the solar-powered UAVs can fly all day and efficiently be used in infrastructure inspection over long distances, long-range search-and-rescue operations, as well as other missions.