discussion / Drones  / 16 March 2016

Solar powered drone for conservation

Hello everyone

I'm excited to have joined this community interested in trying to enhance conservation efforts with modern technology.

I've been working on a design for a solar powered drone for a little over a year now that I'm trying to turn into a reality. To that end I have started a crowdfunding campaign to try speed up the process.

The link to the Indiegogo campaign is:



Please have a look and let me know if you have any suggestions and advice or know any avenues I should pursue to try get support for the project.

Best regards


Hey Gregg,

The project looks cool!

Just wondering how much you envisage the load carrying capacity of the drone to be? So being able to carry cameras, GPS, etc.

Also, do you see the price coming down later? $5000 sounds quite steep...

And finally, have you thought about creating it as an open source project? Since all the perks at this points are mostly symbolic, this way people would be more compelled to contribute.


Have a nice day,


Hi Daniel

Thanks for the interest in the project.

The load carrying capacity will be a few kgs. The battery I've sized at this stage is around 2kgs and should allow it to fly over night, but if this storage is increased in future it will impact the other loads. It is a tricky trade-off between flight time and capability.

I'm hoping to include both visual and thermal cameras on a gimbal but they will need to be miniature versions (adds to cost). The drone will definitely include GPS/autopilot and I'm also hoping to include onboard image processing in future so the drone can send an alarm when it notices something out of place. The video feed will also need to be encrypted so that poachers cannot use the drone as their own scouting vehicle.

The price tag of $5000 is for the first few prototypes and will come down with mass production and buying in bulk. I don't see it dropping much below $3000-4000 at current equipment prices though. For instance, the solar PV cells and charge circuit alone will cost around $1000 and the cost of even the cheap uncooled microbolometer therml imagers is over $1000. This isn't an average consumer drone but I've tried to keep the costs down as much as possible so it's feasible. I've also considered offering a stripped down drone of just the charging circuit and airframe so that people can add their own equipment and autopilot etc.

In terms of the perks, I tried to model this campaign after other campaigns that had a product already, which has been a mistake. The build diary included in some of the perks was my attempt at making it open source. I am considering reworking all the perks as it is unlikely to get any funding at this stage. 

Thanks for the valuable feedback. Please let me know if you have any other questions or comments.