In a big breakthrough, Russian researchers have invented the world’s first unmanned solar wing-in-ground-effect (WIG) vehicle.
Wing-in-ground-effect vehicle: This vehicle is basically a cross between an airplane and a boat. It is not for the first time Russia has developed WIG vehicles. But this is for the first time they have developed a smaller unmanned WIG powered by solar energy.
Built by engineers at Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, this vehicle is known as the Storm-600. Following are some of its features:
- Storm-600 makes use of forward velocity to create lift, which allows it to fly just above the surface of the water.
- It moves faster than boats but fuel consumption is lesser than a conventional aircraft.
- It is unmanned vehicle and is designed to operate by itself. Lead researcher Alexei Maistro said, “We installed laser radar (lidar) on the boat to train the wing-in-ground-effect vehicle to recognize obstacles and avoid them. And the radio radar was also added to increase the range of the vision system to 30 miles”
- Battery power for its electric motors is provided by solar panels, which are installed on the hull and wings of the vehicle.
- Vehicle’s maximum speed is 200 km / h and researchers are planning to increase its potential speed by at least another 100 km / h.
- Researchers intend to use it mainly for patrolling water areas, for conducting search and rescue operations and for cargo delivery. It will also be used as a platform for recharging underwater drones.