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The US Army is making a laser-powered drone that can fly indefinitely



 
 
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Old September 4th 18, 10:59 AM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
Larry Dighera
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Default The US Army is making a laser-powered drone that can fly indefinitely


Will laser goggles soon become part of a pilot's flight bag?


https://www.newscientist.com/article...-indefinitely/

The US Army is making a laser-powered drone that can fly indefinitely

Image: A drone being controlled in the sky
Drones could get power beamed to them from the ground

By David Hambling

The US Army is taking wireless recharging to new heights, by using
lasers to power small drones in mid-air.

Small flying vehicles with several rotating blades, known as
multicopters or drones, have proven valuable to the military for
intelligence gathering. But they are incredibly power-hungry, meaning
their flying time is limited to half an hour or less.

Now the US Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and
Engineering Center based in Maryland are developing a power beaming
system with a combination of modern lasers and efficient photovoltaic
cells.

The aim is to provide power from five hundred metres away – enough to
keep a drone patrolling indefinitely above a base
https://www.newscientist.com/article...uilding-sites/
or fly over a convoy for its entire route. The system works by firing
laser light at the drone’s photovoltaic cell, which then converts the
light into electricity.
Read mo Drones are checking up on insurance claims to look for
fraudsters

“The major challenge we see is thermal management,” says William
Rowley, who works on the project. Energy not converted to electricity
becomes heat, so there is a risk of melting or burning the drone. They
plan to overcome this problem by developing accurate beam control and
ensuring the excess heat can dissipate.

The plan looks technically feasible, says David Anderson at the
University of Glasgow. Though proving its safety is another matter,
given the potential risks from the high-energy beam. Remote power
systems have been laboratory toys since the 60s, but a practical
working prototype has not previously been developed. The project aims
to demonstrate a working ground-to-ground system in early 2019 with
ground-to-air following in 2020

“The challenge is how you can convince the regulatory authorities that
it is safe,” says Anderson. “Specifically, you have to persuade them
that the laser will not miss the drone energy collector panel when
charging.”
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