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    US Navy Testing Spy Drone Fueled by Solar Energy, Thermal Updrafts

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    The US Naval Research Laboratory is testing a surveillance glider-drone that uses photovoltaic arrays to exploit the Sun.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) said in a press release on Wednesday it is testing a surveillance glider-drone that uses photovoltaic arrays to exploit the Sun and thermal updrafts allowing the aircraft to fly on or off battery power.

    "This research is investigating the value of combining autonomous soaring algorithms and solar photovoltaics for capturing energy from the environment to extend flight endurance and mission operations of an aircraft," NRL aerospace engineer Dan Edwards stated.

    Edwards explained that a power management and distribution system converts the power from the solar arrays into direct current (DC) voltage, which the electric motor can use for propulsion, or recharging a smart battery.

    The glider-drone has a 14-foot wingspan and is based on a commercial glider known as the SBXC built by RnR products of Silicon Valley, California.

    The Navy has been at the forefront of developing novel uses of drones, and is testing a quad-copter drone for anti-submarine warfare that takes off and lands on water and can submerge to mask its position, according to published reports.

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