L.A.S.E.R. (Light Aircraft Solar Extended Range)
With the aviation sector becoming a notable contributor to atmospheric pollution, there is a quantum-shift in the technology of air travel. A radical re-think is occurring in not only how aircrafts are designed but also what they are actually made of. L.A.S.E.R. (Light Aircraft Solar Extended Range) is a team of multi-disciplinary undergraduate students focused on designing, building, and testing a UAV (Unmanned aerial vehicle) which employs non-fossil fuel sources of energy to accomplish various missions. The goals of this research are to claim the record for the farthest distance travelled in a straight line by a solar-powered UAV (F5-SOL Category, FAI), to design and fly an aircraft that uses both hydrogen fuel cells and solar technology as a means to power onboard propulsion and electronic systems, and to continue to design and test eco-friendly UAVs that can accomplish a variety of missions. The team is currently constructing L.A.S.E.R. 5, a fully composite sailplane design, and testing circuit designs which safely charge the onboard battery using two power source systems, hydrogen fuel cells and a solar array. This project advances the state-of-the-science and demonstrates the practicality and feasibility of alternative sources of energy for aircraft to address varied missions.