The UAS employs AI algorithms to detect naturally occurring thermals that can keep the system afloat in the same way that birds stay in the air, the report noted.
Microsoft carried out a four-day test of the sailplane in Hawthorne, Nevada to test AI algorithms developed at the company’s offices in Redmond, Washington.
The UAS includes a battery that powers onboard computational equipment and controls; radios for communications with the ground; and a motor to allow manual operation.
Ashish Kapoor, a Microsoft principal researcher, said the AI-controlled sailplane could eventually support activities such as crop monitoring and mobile internet service delivery.
The Microsoft team noted the UAS could use solar or wind power in the future to gather energy and remain airborne indefinitely.