Building your first quadcopter is almost a rite of passage for anyone interested in DIY drones these days. The availability of boards like the Ardupilot make it a lot easier to get started.  However, seven masters students at Queen Mary University of London just raised the bar for the competition. They built a solar powered Quadcopter, which they dubbed Solar Copter.

While there have been numerous solar-powered aircraft, this seems to be the first solar powered helicopter in the world. Based around a unique frame design you can see a lot of potential for surveillance, search and rescue, and long term deployments in areas of the world where the sun shines a lot more than it does back in London.

You can even think further afield at Mars exploration, while prototype Mars aircraft have flow at altitude here on Earth most are aimed at long range exploration. Basing a fleet of light-weight small solar-powered quadcopters which would be launched from a future lander is an interesting possibility.

The project team of Aly Abidali, Jibran Ahmed, Shakir Ahmed, Irmantas Burba, Pourshid Jan Fani, George Kowfie, and Kazimierz Wojewoda hope to keep working on the Solar Copter after they graduate.

(Via the Fast Company.)