Wireless Charging Enables Battery-Powered Drones to Fly Forever
Drones are an imperative and sometimes critical part of everyday modern life, be it search and rescue missions or transporting organs between hospitals. Now, newer cutting edge innovations in drone tech have been showcased at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 in Las Vegas. Global Energy Transmission (GET) has the solution to the short life span of a drone battery – about 22 minutes in most cases making the potential for a wireless charging network an innovative opportunity.
GET announced its charging system at the AUVSI Xponential May 2018 show in Denver, Colorado apart from its appearance at this year’s (CES). The Portland, Oregon-based company GET is developing a network of wireless charging hotspots for drones. By just hovering for six minutes over a grid for a full charge, an electric industrial class drone can repeat the cycle of charging and flying until its battery is drained without ever having to land or connect to a cable using this technology.
The GET charging grid resembles a hexagonal shape- a frame raised on poles interconnected with wires. It frame spans 26 feet across to enable simultaneous multiple drones charging. GET’s website gives details of a demo which involved a drone built for the charging network technology. It weighed 18 lbs without the battery, has the capability to carry about 15 lbs, and can fly for 28 minutes weighing 30 lbs at takeoff. The maximum flying speed is around 37 mph, and servicing of the drone is recommended every 300-1000 flight hours. The maximum power transmitted during the charging stage is 12kW – it consumes 1550W while hovering.
A working prototype of the full system has already been showcased, and numerous videos are also available for public viewing which and describe the development team’s process in detail. One such video lasts over two hours and demonstrates multiple battery-drains and in-air recharges on a continuous feed.
GET’s long-term vision includes a cell-tower like infrastructure comprising numerous charging stations, enabling indefinite flying time for drones in the network. If successful, this technology could reinvent the commercial drone industry, providing 24/7 solutions in dedicated areas for things like deliveries, monitoring, and security.
William R. Kallman, GET’s US Director and partner from the Draper Network in a recent interview said that their technology could also be scaled up to transfer 200 kW of power in the future, putting drone taxis within the realm of GET’s potential customer base.
According to Loenid Pelkhanov CEO of GETCorp said “We believe this approach can revolutionize what you can do with a drone in your business because this is a drone with unlimited flying time.”
GET is currently taking pre-orders for its GET Air™ solution which will include a wireless power charger, a 26-foot diameter charging area/grid, and two GET Air™ industrial class drones with pre-installed wireless charging systems. Available expansions include an Autonomous Power Module for independent power supply to charging stations with limited or no access to electricity. This package price of $120,000 is inclusive of operational and maintenance support.
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