Project Poster (PDF 1.5MB)

Link to Official Project Website


Andre Noth

Phone : +41 44 632 89 52

Tannenstrasse 3
CH-8092 Zurich

Sky-Sailor in Flight
Sky-Sailor in Flight

The goal of this project is to design and build a solar powered micro airplane for autonomous exploration. This system, named Sky-Sailor, is fully autonomous in navigation and power generation. Equipped with solar cells covering its wing, it retrieves energy from the sun in order to supply power to the propulsion system and the control electronics, and charge the battery with the surplus of energy. During the night, the only energy available comes from the battery, which discharges slowly
until the next morning when a new cycle starts.
This project started in 2004 under a contract with European Space Agency to study the feasibility of a Martian Solair Airplane. A lot of work was done on the optimization of the various elements of the energy chain, from the solar celsl to the propeller. The actual prototype weighs 2.4 kg for a wingspan of 3.2 meters. The 216 silicone solar cells are able to deliver up to 90 W at noon during summer whereas the power consumption of the airplane is 16 W at level flight. In June 2008, the objective of Sky-Sailor was reached. The airplane flew more than 27 hours continuously and autonomously. This 874 km flight proved for the first time that it is feasible to stay in the air with the only use of solar energy, and at constant altitude, without the help of altitude gain before the night or thermal soaring.

Report of the 27h flight [pdf]

Article on ETH Life [link]

Article in the Zürcher Tagblatt [pdf]

Article in the Aviation Magazine [pdf]

Article in La Côte [pdf]

Spring 2004 : feasibility study
Summer 2004 - Spring 2005 : Design and realization of the lightweight structure and the solar generator (Solar Panels, MPPT,Battery)
Summer 2005 : Test of the first prototype using MP2028g autopilot, validation of the concept
Fall 2005 - Summer 2006 : Development of our own Autopilot hardware, Creation of an aerodynamic model of the airplane, development of a model-based controller and realization of the ground control station
Summer 2006 - Spring 2007 : Tests and improvement of hardware, reliability checks and preparation for 24h flight
Summer 2008 : Successful 27 hours flight.


New publications:

Phd Thesis


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