Revolutionary Solar and Electric Vehicles
Most innovations in solar and electric have been baby steps. Only recently have powerful electric cars, like the Tesla, come out and solar power has pretty much remained limited to adorning rooftops.
But these green machines show just how amazing solar and electric vehicles of all kinds can be -- and they do it in a big way.
Turanor Planet Solar
The 102-foot catamaran known as Planet Solar or Turanor (meaning "power of the sun" in J.R.R. Tolkien's mythological language) is famous for being the largest solar-powered boat currently on the planet. And although it will not be replacing our oversized cruise ships anytime soon, it is definitely a marvel. With hundreds of panels spanning its surface, Planet Solar is capable of running solely on the power of the sun and can hold 60 passengers. Between 2010 and 2012, Planet Solar became the first boat to complete a completely solar-powered trip around the world, and it even broke a Guinness world record for crossing the Atlantic.
The world's first electric helicopter could not look any crazier. With 18 blades and a stub of a tail, it almost looks like a toy. But this two-passenger copter is the first of its kind capable of running only on electricity. Currently the Volocopter can only run for 20 minutes, but E-volo, the German team behind the project, believe that number will soon jump to an hour of flight time. Ultimately, the team plans to make the Volocopter capable of reaching a cruising speed of around 60mph, a flight altitude of up to 6500 ft, and a maximum take-off weight of over 900 lbs.
The Solara Aircraft
Engineered by Titan Aerospace, the Solara 50 and 60 are solar-powered drone aircraft capable of remaining in the air for over 5 years. These lightweight aircraft, which sport over 3,000 solar panels, will be used for for a variety of tasks -- from law enforcement, mapping, rapid response, and weather monitoring to garbage patch tracking. Let's just hope they don't turn it into something resembling its predator drone cousins.
--Photo by iStockphoto/Winhorse
James Rogers is an editorial intern at Sierra. He graduated from Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, where he studied a combination of environmental studies and journalism. While at Western, he was the editor in chief of The Planet magazine, and he has written for Conservation Northwest Quarterly, Public Eye Northwest, and The Western Front.
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