Laser Beams Used to Recharge Airborne Drones

One of the main problems that have been facing the drone industry is the inability for drones to stay airborne for too long. Most drones only have about 15-20 minutes of airtime on a single battery charge. But this is all about to change thanks to the latest invention by LaserMotive. The company has built a system that can charge airborne drones via a laser allowing them to stay aloft indefinitely.

Tom Nugent, the brains behind LaserMotive, said his company’s latest invention can be described as a wireless extension cord. The transmitter system successfully beamed enough power to an airborne drone to keep it in the air for 48 hours. The drone was a Lockheed Martin’s 17 pound Stalker.

As much as the technology sounds revolutionary, the company says they are still in the early stages of development. According to Nugent, the system takes electricity and converts it to light and transmits the light to a receiver on the drone, which then converts the light into electricity. The company hopes to develop a scaled up version of the system that could keep larger drones airborne indefinitely.

The laser transmitter is made up of an optics table containing a high powered laser system. The system sits in small box which contains mirrors and lenses. The mirrors and lenses direct the laser to a receiver on the drone. The laser transmitter can only transmit about 25% of the electricity it receives from the ground source. Since most drones don’t require a ton of energy, the company believes it will be sufficient.

The ability to recharge a drone’s batteries mid-flight offers many advantages. It allows its operators to provide unlimited flight time which will expand and extend missions. The system includes software that will use video signals to keep the laser pointed at the receiver while the drone is in flight. The company has already demonstrated that the laser can beam power to a drone that is at least one kilometer away, which is enough range to keep a drone in flight.

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