Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Vehicle Research Section and Photovoltaic Section are building on the proven concept of autonomous cooperative soaring of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Their research investigates the benefit of solar photovoltaics (PV) to cooperative autonomous soaring techniques, which enables long endurance flights of unmanned sailplanes that use the power of the Sun.
The Solar Photovoltaic and Autonomous Soaring Base Program and the U.S. Marine Corps' Expeditionary Energy Office (E2O) want to improve the ability of unmanned platforms to support a 24-7 information, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) mission. By doing so, the warfighter will greatly benefit because it will reduce the amount of batteries or fuel they must carry into battle, and improve the availability of continuous coverage of ISR assets.
For more information on autonomous cooperative soaring and persistent ISR, see DSIAC Journal article, The Pursuit of Persistent ISR, https://www.dsiac.org/resources/journals/dsiac/spring-2016-volume-3-number-2/pursuit-persistent-isr.