Elektra Solar demonstrated the capabilities of the company's Elektra One Solar aircraft earlier this month by mapping an historic German town in 3D. The low cost, low noise, high payload electric-solar aircraft was able to circulate silently just 300 meters over the town while it scanning the landscape below.
In late 2016, PC-Aero and Elektra UAS merged to form Elektra Solar GmbH, a company with a clear mission to design, build and sell innovative flight systems, with a particular emphasis on electric propulsion and robotic concepts.
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The company's Elektra Two Solar took to the skies in it's maiden flight recently as SolarStratos (via Swiss company SolarXplorers) and it is planned for manned stratospheric flight (up to 80,000 ft) next year with an unmanned version for day-night solar stratospheric flights under construction.
One of the many commercial applications planned for the low-cost, high-altitude vehicle with a healthy payload capacity, is the provision of broadband internet.
Of more immediate commercial application though, are the capabilities of the company's Elektra One Solar. The original Elektra single seater has been flying since 2011, with that aircraft now developed as the Elektra One Solar with solar panels on the much longer wings.
We reported on the electric-solar aircraft crossing the European Alps in 2015, and since then much development work has been done in the area of three-dimensional imaging applications for landscape mapping.
Over the last few weeks, the first demonstration of these capabilities has been unfolding as the whisper-quiet Elektra One Solar aircraft has been flying at very low altitudes over the old town of Landshut in Southern Germany in order to map the entire city in three dimensions at very high resolution. The historically significant "old" town of Landshut dates back to medieval times and includes Trausnitz Castle.
The Elektra One Solar flew autonomously on a predetermined path over Landshut while carrying a complex payload of sensors, cameras and high speed data links which transmitted the data to a ground station.
The package, which Elektra Solar has dubbed "Remote Eye," is designed to capture and process high resolution 2D imagery taken during flight into three dimensional imagery such as that shown below (more images in the gallery).
The obvious advantage of using a solar electric aircraft with "Remote Eye" is that it can fly within a few hundred meters of any city without disturbing the residents. The very low operational costs have been further enhanced by a relationship with Germany's ViaLight, which has developed laser communication technologies which it bills as "optical fiber for the skies."
ViaLight's long distance wireless data transmission technologies are an ideal match for the Elektra One Solar as they combine a high data rate with low power consumption, compact size and minimal weight. With "Remote Eye" operating above Landshut, the system was able to transmit real time video in 4K resolution up to 40 km and subsequently map the entire town in three dimensions to an accuracy of 2 cm.
Much the same technologies are directly applicable with piloted or unmanned flight at altitudes from 250 meters to 25,000 meters.
Source: Alektra SolarView gallery - 12 images