The Zephyr is a unique plane which may be about to become ubiquitous. Version 7 from 2010 boasted a carbon frame and solar panels which charge a lithium-sulphur battery during the day to allow it to fly at night on its two propellers and 50kg. During it’s flight back in 2010, it made all sorts of news and records by being the longest UAV flight, lasting two straight weeks in the air.
"Zephyr's flight also set a new mark for flight duration for a UAV of its class - unmanned craft weighing 50-500kg - and, for that class, the altitude record of 21,562m (70,741ft)."
There’s no surprise that it holds the record for the longest unmanned flight, staying up in the air for two weeks in 2010 and now the manufacturers Airbus say the new Zephyr 8 will weigh half as much, giving it potentially even greater range and time in the skies, and the panels have been redesigned for a start on the new model are paper thin and equally malleable and will weigh way less.
(The Flight of the Zephyr Version 7 in 2010)
Airbus say the Zephyr can be used as for communications and surveillance at a fraction of the price of a satellite or conventional plane. The Zephyr flies at a much lower orbit than a satellite. Google and Facebook say they are also developing similar craft to provide broadband and communications to hard-to-reach areas of the world, to which Airbus says it welcomes the competition, seeing as it feels it is ahead of its potential rivals.