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While the entire drone industry has been laser-focused on how drones can improve established commercial industries, the feasibility of indefinitely operational drones opens the door to entirely newfound solutions. A new development will supply a safe and efficient method of prolonging drone flight times to virtual indefiniteness, as the need to land or refuel would be removed entirely.
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has partnered with Silent Falcon UAS Technologies for the development of a laser-based method of charging its solar electric-powered, fixed-wing drones during flight.
The company manufactures long endurance, long range, solar electric-powered drones. Using a laser light source to literally beam energy at Silent Falcon’s solar electric-powered UAV, the drone could engage in sequential phases of flying, and flying while charging.
According to the company’s website, the Silent Falcon UAV is uniquely suited for this important project as it is a proven solar electric powered system and the addition of the SUPER PBD capabilities builds on the established Silent Falcon solar electric technology.
The applications of the technology range from extended search and rescue missions and large-scale surveying of disaster areas to military operations and internet access-spreading initiatives. Instead of the Air Force deploying a reaper twice a day to help the California Air National Guard combat the disastrous Carr Fire, for instance, the above technology could provide continuous, unfettered assistance. For rural or remote areas with a complete lack of infrastructure, a drone like this could feasibly be leased by local governments to provide cellular and internet access to facilitate more efficient reconstruction on the ground. By adding a drone that never has to land or refuel, a whole new box of building blocks appears, according to thedrive.com.