Solar Impulse aims to promote the use of renewable energy by building an aircraft capable of circumnavigating the globe using only solar power. The Solar Impulse HB-SIA prototype took the first step toward that goal when it flew nonstop for more than 26 hours, powered only by solar energy and producing no polluting emissions. Lessons learned from the HB-SIA are being applied to the HB-SIB aircraft, which Solar Impulse plans to use for its round-the-world flight in 2015.
Solar Impulse engineers used MATLAB® and Simulink® to conduct advanced trade studies in which they evaluated design tradeoffs and identified critical technology parameters. They used MATLAB and Simulink during the design and construction of the HB-SIA prototype to model and simulate aircraft dynamics and produce a flight simulator for pilot training.
“MATLAB and Simulink enable us to concentrate on high-level modeling and analysis instead of building up tool chains or writing low-level code,” says Ralph Paul, head of flight dynamics and flight test at Solar Impulse. “They give us the ability to prototype and iterate quickly, which is essential on first-of-its-kind projects like Solar Impulse.”