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International Journal of Aerospace Engineering
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 9345368, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/9345368
Research Article

Power Management Strategy by Enhancing the Mission Profile Configuration of Solar-Powered Aircraft

School of Aerospace Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Engineering Campus, 14300 Nibong Tebal, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Received 4 November 2015; Revised 6 May 2016; Accepted 24 May 2016

Academic Editor: William W. Liou

Copyright © 2016 Parvathy Rajendran et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Solar energy offers solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) the possibility of unlimited endurance. Some researchers have developed techniques to achieve perpetual flight by maximizing the power from the sun and by flying in accordance with its azimuth angles. However, flying in a path that follows the sun consumes more energy to sustain level flight. This study optimizes the overall power ratio by adopting the mission profile configuration of optimal solar energy exploitation. Extensive simulation is conducted to optimize and restructure the mission profile phases of UAV and to determine the optimal phase definition of the start, ascent, and descent periods, thereby maximizing the energy from the sun. In addition, a vertical cylindrical flight trajectory instead of maximizing the solar inclination angle has been adopted. This approach improves the net power ratio by 30.84% compared with other techniques. As a result, the battery weight may be massively reduced by 75.23%. In conclusion, the proposed mission profile configuration with the optimal power ratio of the trajectory of the path planning effectively prolongs UAV operation.