- A laser light-based charging system has been developed in China that can power drones in the air
- A laser with a gimbal mount shines on a photoelectric converter on the underside of the drone , which converts the light into electricity
A drone has been developed in China that never has to land thanks to a remote charging system based on laser light. In the future, the technology could significantly increase the range of electric aircraft.
Xi’anyang (China). So far, drones have only had relatively short flight times because they have to land regularly to charge their batteries. Researchers at Northwestern Polytechnical University (NWPU) in China have now investigated how to power a drone in the air so that time-consuming charging breaks are no longer necessary. As reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the result of the project is a system that can use a laser light to power drones in the air.
The system is based on a photoelectric converter on the underside of the drone, which works in a similar way to a photovoltaic module. The converter can convert laser light into electricity and thus supply the drone with sufficient energy. The ground station consists of an adaptive target tracking laser mounted on a gimbal. It is a tripod that can move an optical device practically without jerking. A visual tracking algorithm ensures that the laser beam always follows the transducer.
So far, the scientists have tested their system with a compact quadrocopter indoors with and without light, but also outdoors, in daylight, in poor lighting conditions and in artificial light. In all scenarios, the laser was able to provide the drone with sufficient energy. If a permanent laser supply is ensured, the drone only has to be charged in the event of defects or technical maintenance.
Depending on the light conditions at the transmitter, wireless energy transmission has an efficiency of between 50 and 85 percent. The receiving end can convert about 50 percent of the energy of the laser light into electricity.
Enormous range of the laser light
Lasers have a very long range. It is therefore conceivable that such a system can also supply drones with energy at great heights. According to experts, the charging system could therefore form the basis for an airborne platform that is located below conventional satellites. In addition, laser charging systems could power electric aircraft in the air to increase their range.