In my quest to create a fully autonomous drone I got thinking "hey, what if it can CHARGE ITSELF?" This is the point where light bulbs turned on in my head and so on. With all these wireless charging mats for cellphones and such, there just has to be a way to create a docking station for a quad to fly to, sit there for a while for a full service recharge, then back off to its task at hand until its back for more of that delicious wireless juice.
I'd like to keep the cost low on this idea (of course), so I'm thinking it would be best not to create it from the ground up, but rather use what is available. The main problem I see here is what's available is chargers for cellphones, which run on single cell batteries. This just isn't enough voltage for my 4 cell quad. Anyone know of an inductive charging system that can charge 4 cell batteries? Or any other ideas for tackling this problem?
I am very interested in the idea of a home-dock that copter could take off and land on to charge.
You already identified voltage as an issue, I would probably add amperage to that. To fill up a 3Ah or 5Ah battery will take amperage or a long time.
The other very big problem I can see is that most copters (anything larger than a microcopter) run high-capacity high-discharge LiPo batteries. Those require very careful monitoring while charging or very slow charging (or KABOOM plasma fireball). You will probably need some kind of balancing and monitoring logic between the inductive charger and the LiPo plug that breaks out all the cell voltages (the low amperage one). I'm way out of my depth here, so.. let's hope there are some induction charging and LiPo experts around.
I will add a parting thought: As soon as we can build such a charging dock, I'm sticking a solar panel to it. Imagine a relay chain of charging pads in open areas with no grid connection (say adjacent to a pipeline). Solar charge all day, serve any drones that "drop" in.
My idea of this was to create a swarm of quadcopters that could charge themselves through induction and land on the top of large power lines. We could have 2.4 repeaters attached to them offering a wireless internet swarm. You could then deploy this swarm in places like Syria where the government is turning off the internet and killing its people. This swarm system would allow locals to connect to the swarm and get their videos out to the rest of the social media world eventually proving the massacre taking place. As well at night the quadcopters could change locations and re-charge essentially making it nearly impossible to kill the signal unless you shoot them all down. I have a crazy mind so I would like to have 200 plus in the swarm.
my quad could lift a small solar panel as well as a balance r. be worth some more thinking in my garage for sure.
I think the biggest issue is going to be building an induction receiver that can pull the power off of the line (illegal in the US, btw) and charge without 1) Being too heavy, and 2) Blowing the battery up.
This would be a good idea to create a project branch around. Electronics engineers, and perhaps software devs for the monitoring and reporting portion.
Good luck! I'd be interested to see what you come up with!
We finished some parts of your idea. Please check the following link out.
That is just absolutely amazing! I have so many questions for you. I haven't even started my project yet (unfortunately it's not at the top of my list). First, how did you size the induction coils? Do you know of any good sources to research induction charging (I'm not an electrical engineer, but I have had a few basic courses in EE). Also how do you have the charging system controlled? Is it a standalone system or does it communicate with the drone? I'm assuming you're using some sort of microcontroller, correct? And great idea for repositioning the drone once it has landed. I'd love to have something like this set up where the drone automatically goes to it for a recharge when it's running low on juice.
Thank you so much :)
I published a conference paper with it and you can purchase the paper from http://papers.sae.org/2012-01-2115/.
We developed the idea more and submitted as journal paper on last March and it is currently under review. I will reply again once the journal paper is published!
very very impressed, great job! thank you so much for your work.
Whats the point when it still takes much longer to charge than to drain ?
When I was shopping for home appliances, I saw a little device for home cleaning, which sort of reminded me about your idea of a self-charging drone. Here it is, and you may want to take a closer look at their self-charging function available in every model in the lineup.
A few months ago i participated in a project where we created a "dronestation" prove of concept. An wireless charger (interoperable) for drones. We managed to get about 8W of power transfer at a distance of 2-4 cm.
Refer to http://dronestation.org/ for more. If anyone is interested to fund this research I'd be happy to put you in touch with the guys behind it.