November 14, 2018 / 5:29 PM / 7 months ago

Boeing unveils 'affordable' solar aircraft for collecting climate data

FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is pictured at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition fair (LABACE) at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil August 14, 2018. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

(Reuters) - Boeing Co unit Aurora Flight Sciences on Wednesday unveiled a solar-powered autonomous aircraft that will help researchers collect climate-related data at a fraction of the cost of a satellite.

Odysseus, scheduled for its first flight in early 2019, is powered by lightweight advanced solar cells that can effectively keep it airborne indefinitely, Aurora said.

The autonomous and electric flight firm said the aircraft’s high-resolution observation capabilities can measure vegetation, changes in ice coverage and even ground moisture, as it autonomously gathers data over a specific location.

“Weather and storm monitoring during peak seasons become more affordable and accurate because of its ability to track and measure the movement of severe weather events, all while powered by clean energy,” Aurora said.

Boeing did not specify the cost savings that will result from employing Odysseus’ capabilities.

Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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