The goal of the D-HELIOS project is to achieve at least cheap autonomous drones for civil application.
Almost nonexistent in the public domain, autonomous solar drones are developed mainly by military bases. The particularity of D-HELIOS is its energy independence and its autopilot. Indeed, the system is able to recharge its batteries, manage its energy and also calculate the trajectory which allowing it to reach the destination requested by the user. The glider which was chosen, measure about two meters and have many photovoltaic cells which were chosen for their flexibility, malleability and which keeps an efficient aerodynamics. The various flight tests were very promising. About the energy, without the photovoltaic cells, the plane can fly for a period ranging from seven to eight minutes at full power. In contrast with the cells, the flight time at full power is increased of 21% thanks to solar energy. The autopilot is providing by various embedded systems such as GPS, inertial measurement unit and a microcontroller, which process the data from the inertial to correct the attitude and the direction of the drone. This microcontroller first interprets the commands sent by the remote control to operate the various servomotors to drive the device. In automatic mode thanks to the data from the IMU, the microcontroller will correct the direction and will stabilize the plane. This intermediate is essential for the autopilot because it allowing us to initiate and trigger the automatic mode too. This second mode is however still being finalized.