• 22
A team from the University of Stuttgart has flown into aviation history by averaging over 100 miles per hour for more than two hours, completing a 211-mile trip powered solely by electricity.

The eGenius, essentially a glider with a 60-kilowatt (80.5-horsepower) electric motor, was piloted by project leader Karl Keaser. The electric aircraft departed from Mindleheim, Germany, soared to 4,000 feet, and completed several laps between two nearby towns before landing.

The plane's 55-foot wingspan, tail-mounted propeller and 56-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack proved to be more than capable enough to get the eGenius into the record books with juice to spare.

The eGenius project began in 2007 at the University of Stuttgart. A sponsorship from Airbus allowed the team to begin building the plane in October of 2010. Its maiden flight was in May of this year and the record-setting trip took place on June 15th.

[Source: Wired | Image: Institute for Aircraft Design, University of Stuttgart]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      montoym
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's a lot of money to spend for a pretty marginal gain. Much better to just ditch the solar cells and plug the damn thing in when you're on the ground. More often than not, you're going to be parked at an FBO (more than likely in a hanger) that will have a plug within easy reach. A glider is light enough that I wouldn't want one out in the wind for days at a time, even if tied down.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 4 Years Ago
      that's a nice data point. seems we don't need much better batteries to make private electric prop planes viable. that right there could work already. even has side by side seating. 340km flight (shame on you abg for using miles) not entirely useless range. 56kWh can weigh as little as 250kg today. they can be in the wings. tandem seating will likely be better. a single seater can be much smaller so you pay for less battery. with 350Wh/kg lithium sulfur batteries 600km range at 170km/h seems possible. that's a plane
      atc98092
      • 4 Years Ago
      Uh, it's already built as a glider (sailplane). In Europe powered gliders are much more popular than here in the States. They've replaced the gas engine with an electric motor.
      atc98092
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's a great showing, be be aware that this is not an airplane for serious travel. It has virtually no space for any luggage. It is designed as a powered glider, and I think it's a great idea to change to battery power. They are great recreational vehicles and a lot of fun. But, an airplane that must travel under all expected weather conditions (rain, wind, nighttime, instrument flight rules (IFR)) would be larger, weigh much more and have a much higher electrical load. Just like electric cars, still waiting on the miracle battery, unfortunately.
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 4 Years Ago
        @atc98092
        looks to me like the body could contain rather substantial amounts of luggage behind the people. there is no gas turbine taking up space
          atc98092
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          Nice idea, but then you run into weight and balance issues. Aircraft are extremely sensitive to their center of gravity location. The larger the aircraft, the wider range of where the weight can go. Something this small probably can't handle more than 15-20 pounds behind the wing, and the further to the rear you go the less weight could be tolerated. Get your weight outside the envelope and the aircraft becomes uncontrollable. Then it's time to test the parachute!
      Ernie Dunbar
      • 4 Years Ago
      One, this is a powered sailplane, not a glider. Two, real sailplane pilots don't do laps around the airstrip at a 45 degree angle. ;) In their defense, I'm sure that this is just a test flight, and they'll attempt better flights in the future.
      paulwesterberg
      • 4 Years Ago
      Put some lightweight flexible solar panels on those wings and give this vehicle nearly unlimited range.
        montoym
        • 4 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Don't know why my original comment here was deleted, or at least isn't showing up for me now. But, solar panels (no matter how many you put on this plane) would never be able to provide "nearly unlimited range". There isn't nearly enough surface for that(ever notice how solar farms take up huge plots of land?). Not to mention that they wouldn't be placed at the optimal angles all that often either. Not to mention that solar panels aren't terribly efficient even after decades of research. Even if they managed to get anywhere close to 100% efficiency, you'd achieve less than 1000W of power per square meter under the absolute best light conditions which is only going to last a fraction of the day. Directly solar powered anything is pretty much a pie in the sky dream. Best leave solar farms to collect the sunlight and disperse the power through the grid, make so much more sense and is actually feasible.
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 4 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        nah doesn't quite work that way. say you have 10m2 wing area and even if we assume the sun shines straight down that's only 2000watt with the best cells around. in reality you might get 1000watt and that's in clear sunshine. not enough to really matter in flight. only super light and fragile planes can fly on solar cells and only work in sunshine.. but they could be used to charge the plane up again when on the ground
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          at least you got one right then montoym : )
          montoym
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          I basically disagree with DF on pretty much everything else he says, but in this case, I actually agree with him. The sun gives us roughly 1000Watts per square meter(assumed at noon on a cloudless day). However, even the best solar cells are not able to convert that energy into usable power at anything close to 100% efficiency. The best solar cells we have now are about 21% efficient. So, at best(assuming you were flying near noon on a cloudless day), your solar cells on the plane would produce roughly 2100W assuming the absolute best circumstances. An hour of sunlight shining on that 10m2 wing area(assuming DF's figures are accurate), would provide 2.1kW-hr of power. Considering that this plane has a 56kW-hr battery, you can easily see where the problem lies. Basically, solar power simply does not provide enough power to refuel any mode of transportation directly. You can cover every single exposed area of the plane(or car) with solar cells and not get enough power to even keep up with the power used by the vehicle, much less recharge the batteries. Even with 100% efficient cells, you'd still only receive about 10kW-hr's of power, still well below what this plane uses(56kW-hr / 2hrs = 28kW-hr per hour used on average). This for basically a powered glider as well. A larger, faster, more useful plane would suck down even more power. Solar farms are really the only way to go for solar power, but they do still take up large areas of land in order to produce the power they do. It's the only way to do it until we suddenly stumble upon dramatically more efficient photovoltaic cells. We've been at it for a long time though and have only made it this far.
      uncle_sam
      • 4 Years Ago
      Put some RPGs to it and a minigun and use this to silently kill some beardy terrorists
      Chris M
      • 4 Years Ago
      Average 100 mph, 2 hour flight, that works out to about 200 mile range! Hey Noz, what were you saying about battery powered planes?
        montoym
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Chris M
        This is a powered glider. Scale it up to a larger, faster plane that could be used for freight work or even transport and the speed and range will drop like a rock. This record doesn't really prove much of anything honestly. There is still a long, long way to go before EV airplanes are even close to mainstream.
        Noz
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Chris M
        You're kidding right? Try that with a Jumbo and then get back to me...lol.
      HVH20
      • 4 Years Ago
      Awesome! Glad to see this kind of development in the aviation industry. I'm guessing it uses 15-20kW while cruising. Adding "lightweight" solar panels to its wings would only get you 2-3kW or about 6 kWh over the course of its flight. Sorry to be a sand castle kicker but solar panels are not the magic solution to an immediate power source for this application.
        wardialer
        • 4 Years Ago
        @HVH20
        check out the 'solar impluse' designed by a french team. perpetual flight IS possible and i think they'll pull it off in THIS decade.
        paulwesterberg
        • 4 Years Ago
        @HVH20
        Solar panels would help trickle charge the batteries while the plane sits on the tarmac and 6kWh could get you an extra 30 miles which could be helpful if the batteries are running low.
        Ryan
        • 4 Years Ago
        @HVH20
        It looks pretty aerodynamic right now, but I wonder if there are any changes that could be made to get it to act as a glider. And any improvements to batteries or motors will help. Solar panels may help, and the solar powered plane exists, but it isn't for a normal person to fly yet.
      savagemike
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is great and I"m all for it - but.... The fact that it is primarily a glider makes such numbers meaningless without more information. A lot depends on how/where it was flown and the weather on the day. The record distance for a completely non-powered glider is much further than this.
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 4 Years Ago
        @savagemike
        it they were gliding and using thermals the result would be meaningless. the speed specification means it was a powered flight. just because it looks like a glider doesn't mean that it is. the glider shape is just rational unlike crappy cessnas
    • Load More Comments