N.D. Renewable Energy Program Funds Project for Solar-Powered UAS


With a goal of creating a ‘solar soaring power management system’ for unmanned aircraft, Fargo, N.D.-based Packet Digital LLC has been awarded a research and development grant from the North Dakota Industrial Commission's Renewable Energy Program (REP).

The power management company was funded $350,000 to further its goal of using solar energy to double unmanned aircraft system (UAS) flight times and, ultimately, provide unlimited endurance. Total project costs are estimated at $1 million.

Packet Digital's patented power management architecture achieves power savings in applications including laptops, handsets, servers and embedded devices.

According to the commission, the UAS project has the potential to create manufacturing and development opportunities in North Dakota for a variety of products, including solar arrays and unmanned aircraft.

Packet Digital’s objective includes as follows:

“Most commercial UAS flight times are, on average, 15 to 90 minutes. With our advances to date, we believe we can achieve five times those average fly times – enabling the industry for additional applications previously limited due to shortened fly times.

“Specifically in North Dakota, extended fly times with real-time data distribution provided by our software will enable the applicability of UAS to agriculture and pipeline management.”

The legislature established the REP in 2007 to provide funding for research, development, marketing and education to foster the growth of renewable energy, including wind, biofuels, biomass, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and hydrogen.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission consists of Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.

Packet Digital recently teamed up with Aerobotic Innovations LLC to form Botlink LLC, which is launching a cloud-based operations platform for UAVs.

More on the solar soaring power management project can be found here.

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