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Earth Observation by Autonomous Solar UAV

Project description

Unlike Icarus, this drone welcomes the sun's powerful rays

Observing our Earth's surface and its atmosphere from above enables us to get a much broader view than is possible on the ground. While satellites and aerial platforms have been providing this possibility for a long time, drones have been generating growing interest in recent times. However, existing regulations and a low payload capacity are some of the challenges impeding their widespread use. The EU-funded SX1.3 project is developing a disruptive completely autonomous drone, SolarXOne, to address the current gap in the market. The drone has large payload capacity and, thanks to solar power optimisation, is completely energy independent and able to fly long distances at a much lower cost than the competition. Although the team is starting off with a few target applications including fire detection and precision agriculture, the sky is the limit for this incredibly versatile technology.


XSUN develops an innovative autonomous solar drone dedicated to earth observation. Inspired from satellite earth
observation, XSUN aims to offer affordable earth data acquisition performed by unmmaned autonomous vehicules to a
range of end users which have all express their support to the SolarXOne project : Linear infrastructure observation (such as
railway, pipeline or electrical grid), environmental & security surveillance issues (forest fire detection, traffic surveillance),
Maritime observation (traffic surveillance, fishing surveillance), precision agriculture (monitoring of the health of crops and
livestock). A first autonomous prototype is ready (TRL6). Thanks to a patented double-wing innovative design, the
performances of SolarXOne are disruptive compared to existing solutions: large payload capacity (7kg) enabling to carry a
wide range of data acquisition sensors, very stable flight enabling precise data acquisition, long flight (>600 km / Day),
cheaper price for end user compared to competitors. A world record of autonomous solar flight will be tempted in the next
months. SolarXOne project objectives are to industrialise the drone production with enhance performances. Adaptability to
Hydrogen energy source will be added as well as vertical take-off capability. Market demonstration will be done during the
project for linear infrastructure, fire detection, maritime surveillance and precision agriculture. Two operating centres will be
opened in France and Germany. XSun is based on 2 complementary business models: earth data service commercialization
operated from the control centres and complete system commercialization. Market analysis have been performed for each
segment and the business plan shows promising revenue reaching 30 M€ in 2025. XSUN has been created in 2016, its team (12 people) is composed of experienced managers and business developers in the aerospace industry as well as young passionate engineers.

Call for proposal


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Net EU contribution
€ 1 864 450,00
44350 Guerande

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The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire Loire-Atlantique
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Total cost
€ 2 663 500,00