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Interesting idea. I'm guessing you will need to shield any conductive components since you are injecting the entire craft into a magnetic field. Maybe instead of using inductive magnetic fields, a laser based charging system might work.
Thanks for comment. The most of drone components is not affected by the field based on our testing, so shielding is not an issue. As for laser idea - well, this is a different tech and for many reasons laser is impractical for power level of many kilowatts.
Hi Dmitry, I'm curious to how many different UAV designs you have tested with your system and how you verify there isn't any interference based on wiring, PCB design, etc...? I would love to see an autonomous aircraft approach your system, charge itself and fly away. Fixed wing aircraft are really going to be difficult to manage with this approach.
Pretty neat. What's the benefit of a system like this over a small landing pad than transfers power? Seems like a lot of extra weight on the vehicle for this approach as well as having to push more current since the vehicle is hovering.
Well, we didn't test too many drones yet, and of course cannot test all kind of drones in the world. However, from those we tested, we can see that none of their PCBs, controllers, GPS or accelerometers was affected. And since they are all based on same principles/physics, we assume same results for others. Would be fair to say that there is some sort of disturbance for a magnetic compass, but we found that it could be easily shielded while keeping its fully operational.
We are working on tech to make wireless power as a service in some middle term, so this kind of autonomous behaviors you are describing, is really what we expect to achieve soon.
Fixed wing a full different story though, but hybrids with fixed/rotary could utilize this tech too.
Hi Charles! Thanks for the question. If you are thinking about single drone, then probably you could be right, but if you think about some massive applications like parcels delivery using drones, there is a full bunch of benefits.
First, in case of landing spots you have fixed number of drones you can charge. Say, there are three spots here, but you have two other drones that need to be charged because they are running out of energy. Should they wait? For how long? Where?
Also, in terms of cost analysis, the more drones you charge at a time, the better cost analysis you will have for solution like we propose, because you can charge as many drones as you need with the same system, as long as you have enough power.
Next, wireless charging (whatever you are landed or not) is much more beneficial in case of bad weather conditions - extra humidity, water, etc. Any approach that require wired plug in would increase risk of operations in such conditions anyway. Especially if you want to utilize batteries with high charge rate (because in that case you have much higher currents).
The last but not least, landing of drones on other properties involves a lot of different legal aspects that could be a huge headache in case of massive operations/ in remote areas.
Additionally, landing or takeoff is most risky in terms of any flying vehicle...
So we believe that frankly speaking there is no alternative to wireless charging as long as we can make it efficient and quick. But we have to operate in uncertain environment, which is always challenging…
Best post i saw recently. Great job guys!
Hi Greg, thanks!
@Dmitry your answer does not completely answer Charles question.
If a drone has easily replaceable batteries then the drone can be made to land and the batteries can be changed which I believe is a much faster and efficient method. The batteries which are discharged can be then put on charge while the drone completes the mission and comes back. Even if you have multiple drones this method seems to be better. This is just my viewpoint though. You've done a very good job with the wireless charging technology, when I first saw the video I was very impressed.
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