Sunbirds, a French start-up, have just finalised the development of their SB-4 Phoenix, a 6.5 lb(3kg) drone capable of carrying out eight-hour assignments. After four years of R&D, this 10 feet (3 metre) wingspan solar drone is finally operational.
After taking off, thanks to its lithium-polymer battery, the UAV will then auto-recharge inflight by using its forty wing integrated solar cells. The SB-4 Phoenix can thus be operated throughout the day, and travel several hundred kilometres at a cruising speed of almost 20 mph (30km/h). A drone suitable for monitoring large infrastructural pipelines, power lines, and agricultural projects, and targetted at the international market.
As Sunbirds Managing Director, Laurent Rivière, explains, "Latin American farms are immense, and there is a big need for aerial mapping to assist precision agriculture in these wide open spaces."
In a month’s time, and directed at their first prospective customers, Sunbirds will carry out demonstrations of their solar drone in South America, particularly in Brazil, which has over 160,000,000 acres (65 million hectares) of farmland. As of 2020, the start-up intends to sell a hundred units a year at 50,000 euros each.