Airbus Funds Next-Gen UAV Battery Technology

Published: 04 Nov 2019

Airbus Zephyr solar UAV

Airbus Defence and Space has announced that it has provided financing to Amprius Inc. to aid the development of new generation batteries based on Silicon Nanowire Anode technology. The investment will help drive the development of higher volume production capacity and higher energy density cells for projects such as Airbus’ Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Amprius was the first company to use 100% silicon anodes in lithium ion batteries and currently manufactures the highest energy density commercial batteries in the industry. Other battery technologies developed by Amprius include silicon-graphite composite anodes, lithium-rich cathodes, and high voltage electrolytes tailored for silicon.

Zephyr is a solar–electric, stratospheric UAV that is being developed for both military and commercial applications, including disaster management, persistent surveillance and providing communications to previously unconnected remote areas.

Jana Rosenmann, Head of Airbus Unmanned Aerial Systems, commented: “This partnership reinforces the link between two market leaders, the newest generation batteries of the market matched with the most advanced HAPS programme. Zephyr is currently the only one operating in the stratosphere at an average altitude of 70,000 and running exclusively on solar power, providing persistent local satellite-like services and supporting a wide range of applications and tasks.”

Jon Bornstein, COO of Amprius, said: “We are extremely pleased to be working with Airbus and supplying batteries for the Zephyr program. The incorporation of Amprius’ 100% silicon nanowire anode-based lithium ion batteries into the Zephyr platform represents an important validation of this technology. Likewise, our development of high energy power cells for Urban Air Mobility will enable exciting opportunities in new aviation markets.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passions for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years.