Non-military drones are still a new technology for it to be considered as a conventional commercial product. No matter how hard some big companies try to present it as a viable technology of today, it still is far fetched. The drone technology available at the moment ends up choking on its own limitations, i.e. power source.
Most Consumer friendly drones offer a very limited flight time, which generally falls between 10 to 30 minutes. While it can usually be solved by using a larger battery source but it results in increased weight to be carried by the drone itself, which means you need a higher power to keep the drone hovering in the sky and you fall back where you started. It’s this dilemma that inspired one researcher to develop a prototype that can indefinitely maintain its flight without having to rely on the local power source.
Dr. Samer Aldhaher from Imperial College London designed a lightweight drone that can draw power from a wireless transmitter below it. The simple version is that this squad has had its battery removed and has been outfitted with a coil of copper foil tape. This acts as a receiver for the electromagnetic waves that are being put out by the plate that the drone is flying over. It’s not that different from the wireless tech some phones use to charge, except the drone is flying.
It is a very cool prototype which opens a window to think about a new world of wirelessly powered devices but presently, it is not entirely practical. here’s a lot of limitations at this point, of course, such as the need for the drone to only hover five inches above the transmitter with minimal sideways movement.
Current technology can make wireless power to only work reliably over a very small distance. If, however, you intend to fly it from point A to point B, you’d have to lay down a stripe of power-transmitting material and make sure that there are no obstructions between the path as it can only hover a few inches of that stripe.
It would be interesting to see whether we could solve the power issues in the near future until then this prototype is as good as a power consuming ornament for your desk.
New technology is being discovered more frequently as we slowly glide to the future. It would be no surprise if we attribute technology making us independent uncannily. In the meanwhile, why don’t you entertain yourself by building a Lego drone?