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Disrupting drone mid-flight for recharge may soon become a thing of the past. An American company with an engineering center in Russia has developed an inductive charging system that powers up drone batteries mid-flight, allowing them to stay in the air for an indefinite amount of time.
The wireless charging system currently appears as a hexagonal loop, above which the drone may hover for several minutes for recharge. The company, GET (Global Energy Transmission) set up wires hanging from posts above the ground, and the diameter of this charging area is roughly 10 meters which gives even large drones with eight motors enough room to hover inside.
In order to be charged, the drones are equipped with a set of wires that are wrapped around their motors, thus receiving the electric current from the outer wires of the frame. By transmitting up to 12 kilowatts of power, this is how the drone can be charged so quickly to continue to stay in the air. The system is reasonably portable, and can be set up and moved as required.
While a much faster alternative would be to land the drone and swap out the batteries, this is only true when a drone is operated individually.
A fleet of autonomous drones in which having them charge themselves as their battery depletes would make this system incredibly useful.
In an effort to boost efficiency, multiple drones can be charged at one time through the suspended wires. Build enough of these stations, and you can have an army of drones in the air that never need to land.
The vision is to have these charging loops set up several miles from one another, allowing a drone – or a number of drones – to constantly surveil an area, stopping to quickly recharge without needing a human to change a battery, and flying off to the next stop once the battery’s full.
These charging stations could solve the problem of the limited physical range drones currently experience, crippled by battery life and insufficient power. The charging stations can be set up anywhere along the drone’s route in order to top-up the battery, as reported by dronedj.com.
While other solutions are in development such as alternative fuel sources like hydrogen to deliver long-endurance drone flight, those are still limited, according to newsatlas.com.
This development is an incredibly crucial step toward a future where drones have the ability to hover indefinitely.