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World records for QinetiQ Zephyr UAS now official

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December 29, 2010

The FAI has ratified the three world records claims made by QinetiQ in July 2010 after its...

The FAI has ratified the three world records claims made by QinetiQ in July 2010 after its Zephyr UAV stayed airborne for over 14 days

The three world records that QinetiQ applied for after its Zephyr High-Altitude Long-Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle completed a successful 14-day flight in July 2010, have been confirmed by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. The aircraft has now officially been ratified as staying in the air longer and achieving the highest altitude of any surveillance craft in its class, and setting the absolute duration record of 14 days and 21 minutes.

The ultra-lightweight carbon-fiber aircraft trounced the duration record set by Global Hawk in 2001 by a factor of 11, and managed to rise a good 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) higher (NASA's Helios Prototype, although in a different class, did get a tad higher in 2001). QinetiQ claims that the Zephyr could also help governments, companies and universities cut costs, saying that the vehicle can be produced at "one tenth of the cost of other unmanned aerial vehicles and one hundredth of the cost of a satellite."

The Zephyr benefits from a full flight set of Sion Power lithium-ion batteries that are charged during the day by United Solar's paper-thin amorphous silicon arrays, which cover the aircraft's wings and provide the aircraft's power – day and night. QinetiQ also developed a novel solar charger and bespoke autopilot system for the craft, and for the Yuma, Arizona flight in July also included a UK Ministry of Defense communications payload.

QinetiQ says that development continues towards a goal of having the aircraft stay airborne for months at a time – making the Zephyr even more useful for aerial surveillance, communication, lightweight transport and research scenarios.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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9 Comments

The payload of Zephyr appears to be about 6lbs, meaning the plane is useless other than for an intermittent video surveillance, something like 10 hours worth of real-time video during the duration of the whole flight. In other words, it is an oversized toy. QinetiQ is a joke.

Facebook User
29th December, 2010 @ 08:08 am PST

I agree,.. just like the wright brothers, whose invention was even more pointless,.. after all it only flew 120 feet

Facebook User
30th December, 2010 @ 04:40 am PST

Humans seem to be on their best behavior only when someone is watching them who can then provide proof, to their peers, of their bad behavior. It seems to me that the World can only benefit from increased observation. If you have to hide what you are doing maybe you should not be doing it. But what the hell do I know, my Mom always told me to drive as if there were a Policeman behind me, though I usually did not, but the tickets I got caused me to change.....

Facebook User
30th December, 2010 @ 08:48 am PST

I reckon I'll have to stop reading these awful negative comments from the same old complainants, who, it appears, have now started agreeing with themselves!

Ian Colley.

Terotech
30th December, 2010 @ 09:20 am PST

@Facebook User (29 Dec. 2010) - Hmmm, given that even commercially available HD video cameras and transmitters with solid state storage when transmission is not possible now weigh potentially less than a few hundreds of grams and QQ also invests heavily in air-batteries (thus the structure of the Zephyr itself becomes the power source) charged by photo-voltaic cells on the skin of the wings during the day - then Zephyr can stream video continuously. This leaves plenty of payload for other sensors that the military would find very useful. But hey, let's not any actual facts get in the way of a bit of Qinetiq bashing (and no, I don't work for them).

DaddyHoggy
30th December, 2010 @ 10:53 am PST

That's right..."like the wright brothers, whose invention was even more pointless"...

Man, I wish I had insight like that. Stupid Wright brothers, anyway, wasting their time out there like that. Wasted lives, no doubt.

You some clever fellow.

Jeff Chernoff
31st December, 2010 @ 07:57 am PST

Jeff that facebook user was being sarcastic of the first poster who said this aircraft was pointless.

I do think it is cool. Would be even cooler when they make it do something like handle cell phone calls or broadcasts cable or something.

Michael Mantion
1st January, 2011 @ 04:43 am PST

...big things are happening !

Ken Munyard
3rd January, 2011 @ 11:26 pm PST

Brilliant invention team Zephyr, pursue this purpose with single minded passion. The world will always have opinions. Engineer the idea, everyday till we have something that makes the future brighter & the world better. Good luck & God bless !

I believe this has the power to change everything :)

Shyam Kuddyady
4th January, 2011 @ 07:28 am PST
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