Funding for new solar drone technology

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An Adelaide company developing capability for the commercial manufacture of solar powered drones will receive $150,000 in support under the South Australian Early Commercialisation Fund (SAECF).

Praxis Aeronautics has created a process by which solar cells can be encapsulated into a composite material, such as the body of a drone. While solar power drones are now available, they are less efficient and the design needs to be altered to accommodate solar cells.

Currently, petrol powered drones are expensive to purchase and maintain, and while electric drones are cheaper, they have a flight duration of up to only one hour depending on payload.

With the extended flight duration, the company believes the drones could be used for a number of humanitarian, environmental management, mapping and defence purposes, such as delivery of medical supplies to remote or isolated communities.

The funding support will go towards scaling up the systems and production facilities to allow for the manufacture of full scale solar powered drones for sale.

Praxis Aeronautics Managing Director, Don Donaldson, said, “Our new manufacturing process is disruptive because it enables standard solar cells to be used in a much more productive way.

“The Early Commercialisation Fund has enabled us to get to a commercial stage much earlier than would be normally possible for a small start-up, by allowing us to purchase manufacturing equipment and some materials for our prototype.”

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