The work described in this proposal will involve an interdisciplinary team of students working together to develop the concept, configuration, and system for an innovative long endurance solar aircraft. Most solar aircraft built to date either have flight times limited by poor aerodynamics and small wing areas, or are extremely large and have suffered some catastrophic structural failures. Our project aims to take a new approach, using very lightweight composite materials and an unusual “joined wing” or “box wing” configuration that should increase aerodynamic efficiency while also providing the structural strength that solves the problem that has plagued other attempts. The team will prototype various aspects of the solar aircraft throughout the year, leading to an increasingly advanced aircraft that could potentially be used for missions, have commercial potential, or feature patentable design work. At the end of the project period this academic year we hope to be able to fly a long-duration (all day) mission as a culminating experience that exemplifies Learn By Doing on a high tech project relevant to a growing industry that many Cal Poly students will work in.
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