Blending long lifetimes and low weight are key goals for batteries. QinetiQ turned to lithium sulfur batteries from Sion Power in its Zephyr 6.1 High Altitude, Long Endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, which recently took the crown for the longest duration unmanned flight. The battery/solar-powered Zephyr stayed aloft for 54 hours, nearly doubling the previous record. Zephyr’s wings, which span 62 ft, are covered by paper-thin arrays of amorphous silicon solar arrays. The plane weighs only 31 kg.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.