Solar energy is a crucial factor in powering the robots of the future, and it is absolutely possible to find it on an incredible number of applications. The last, evocative and disturbing as few, concerns a class of fully automated micro aircraft that fly by exploiting the movement of birds.
Prof. S. Gupta of the University of Maryland presents 'his' Robo Raven as follows:
Solar cells currently cover less than half of Robo Raven's wingspan: they produce 3.6W of power on a sunny day, with an efficiency of 6% which can reach a range between 25 and 50% when combined with motors. efficient. We plan to increase the performances and to cover a greater area of Robo Raven in its future versions.
To give this solar volatile 'eternal life' it would take much more energy: real birds rely, more than on the sun, on currently much more efficient sources of 'food' energy.
Nature has developed amazing energy systems: for example, 1 gram of food produces 20 times the energy of one gram of current energy technology provided by batteries. In nature, solar energy is 'captured' by trees and is not found on birds.
What if we start thinking about robots that can also draw energy from food? It will take much longer, during which nothing prevents us from continuing in the experiments that bring us closer to an efficiency of solar energy that can power robotic (or is it better to say volatile?) Aircraft indefinitely.