Solar Impulse captured headlines in 2016 with its round-the-world flight powered by sunlight. Manned solar flight is impractical, however, and Solar Impulse is not a prototype aircraft of the future, but a showcase for clean energy technology. Where solar power is quietly becoming a commercial proposition is in unmanned aircraft, in two categories: large UAVs that stay aloft for days, and small, hand-launched drones. The Zephyr, being developed by Airbus, is typical of the larger variety. ...


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