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81 hour continuous flight with PX4 flight stack in solar airplane – world record!

By July 31, 2015April 11th, 2017Announcements

Two weeks after having demonstrated AtlantikSolar’s first 24-hour flight , the fixed-wing team of ETH Zurich’s Autonomous Systems Lab reached another milestone: A continuous flight of its 6.8kg AtlantikSolar Unmanned Aerial Vehicle that spanned a total of 2316km and 81.5 hours (4 days and 3 nights) and has broken the flight endurance world record in its class.

Image of AtlantikSolar, copyright AtlanticSolar

AtlantikSolar used a version of the PX4 flight code, which was largely unmodified, except for added support for the vehicle’s special sensors and equipment like the battery charge controller. The estimation and control system is the stock system found in PX4 codebase.

The flight set multiple records including:

  • sets a new world record for the longest ever demonstrated continuous flight of all aircrafts below 50kg total mass, and is also the longest-ever continuous flight of a low-altitude long-endurance (LALE) aircraft (the previous record being a 48-hour flight by the 13kg soLong UAV).
  • is the second-longest flight ever demonstrated by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (behind Airbus Space’s 53kg Zephyr 7)
  • is the third-longest flight ever demonstrated by a solar airplane (behind Airbus Space’s 53kg Zephyr 7 and the 2300kg Solar Impulse 2)
  • is the fifth-longest flight ever demonstrated by any aircraft (both manned and unmanned).


Hamish Willee

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