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News Release

The longest flight of a high-altitude, solar-powered drone in Korea

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  • Registration Date 2020-09-02
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The longest flight of a high-altitude, solar-powered drone in Korea
- Utilized for natural disaster and weather forecast and support for the development of high-performance batteries for high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) –

□ The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) announced that its high-altitude, long-endurance, solar-powered electrical aerial vehicle (EAV-3) that flies with solar energy at high altitude -- where air is scarce -- succeeded in flying continuously for 53 hours.
○ Following a 90-minute flight at an altitude of 18 km in 2016, this flight achieved Korea’s longest continuous flight, including 16 hours in the stratosphere at 12 - 18 km.
※ The world’s longest flight record for solar-powered UAV is 26 days by Zephyr from Airbus DS in 2018. A high-performance battery from US-based Amprius helped achieve the record.

□ KARI is developing the high-performance battery pack and ultra-light, super strong structure technologies; it improved communication performance to receive real-time HD images from a distance of up to 50 km.

□ EAV-3 can remain in the stratosphere at an altitude of 12 km or higher for months on end and carry out the mission of monitoring of natural disasters or illegal fishing in real time, communication relay, and particulate matter or weather observation to supplement artificial satellites in an economical, eco-friendly manner. As such, advanced countries are investing heavily in developing future leading technology.
※ According to a report by US-based aircraft market survey firm Teal Group (2016.7), the high-altitude, long-endurance UAV application market in the communication field is expected to grow to USD 1.5 billion in 2025 to exceed the agriculture field (USD 1.36 billion) and come close to the construction field (USD 1.65 billion).

□ KARI plans to continue enhancing the performance of EAV-3 by utilizing the high-performance battery pack and solar cell. It will remain in the stratosphere at an altitude of 12 km or higher for days and months to carry out various pilot missions, such as procurement of ground observation and atmospheric data, real-time image transmission, communication relay, and weather observation as part of the program to commercialize the high-altitude, solar-powered UAV technology.

□ Moreover, it plans to cooperate closely with industries in Korea by sharing the results of this test flight to accelerate the development of the Korean model of high-performance batteries for high altitude.
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