The UPC Solar plane

A team of seven students from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) is finalizing the development of a prototype unmanned solar plane. Sponsored and supervised by the company GTD, the plane has been called Endeavour Solar is being built with technology created by the students themselves, according to the UPC.

Transforming a business planner at the prototype Solar Endeavour, a prototype that will be powered only by photovoltaic solar energy: that is the challenge that claim asociaciónTrencalòs seven students from the Team of the Higher Technical School i d'Enginyeria Industrial de Terrassa of Aeronautics Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC). The ultimate aim is, according to UPC, "maintain cruise flight of the aircraft as long as possible." The Solar Endeavour, which has just entered the flight test phase, wants to participate in Challenge Air Cargo, European student competition air prototypes to be held in August in Stuttgart.

Just over a year

The story begins in February 2010 when the group of students takes on a "scale commercial aircraft" and begins to undergo the necessary technical amendments, in aerodynamics, electronics and electricity to make it a solar airplane. Under the UPC, the two main difficulties faced by developers of the prototype lies in adapting solar cells to the wings of the aircraft, which have enjoyed the cooperation of the company Rofin Iberia, and the design of an energy management system that guarantees endurance.

Competition does not loose garment

Under the UPC, the technology to enter the cells to the wings has already been embodied in other projects such as Solar Impulse, the aircraft built by the Swiss Bertrand Piccard, Zephyr-6, British prototype holds the world record for staying in flight; or solar airplane being developed by the Renewable Energy Technology Institute in Tenerife (see September 2009 issue, ER 81). What ocurreapunta UPC is that "these projects have not been made public its technological secrets, so students have to create their own technology."

The first flight in August

It will also create self-UPC-added, the energy management system, which is "the heart of the aircraft and must allow distribution of energy from storage in lithium batteries, employing electronic components to be interact precisely to ensure that the aircraft engine to work properly in all weather conditions, even in the absence of sunshine. " In addition, Solar Endeavour will have a complex system of remote telemetry and secured in order to direct the flight of the aircraft.

Various applications

Under the UPC, the solar flight technology is the "perfect platform" to increase the capabilities of unmanned aircraft, so far limited by the limited autonomy they have. The applications of unmanned solar airplanes are many, according to the university: thus, from the prevention of forest fires, used as telecommunications relays in remote areas and in observation of the Earth. Also added the UPC, the drones have also been employed in work related to the "precision agriculture, capturing with great detail for example the level of irrigation in each area."


The project has the support of HELIENE which has provided a photovoltaic module for testing and 200 high-performance solar cells as well as provide other components for the manufacture of solar. CAT UAV has provided students of the UPC system telemetry and remote control, "a team with which you can fly a plane of this type as if it were a manned aircraft." Finally, also the energy field of Technology Centre of Manresa, CIMNE Airtech and collaborate with the project.

With name

Endeavour Solar Project is part of the Inspire program of this school of Industrial and Aeronautical-UPC, which states as its objective the promotion of "talent and entrepreneurship among students through the development of real projects and technology-based multidisciplinary" . Trencalós collective Students participating in the project are Joaquim Endeavour Solar Creus, Carlos Felipe, Josep Fernández, Marta Marimon, Ignacio Pedrosa, and Xavier Pons Arnau Serena.