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Kinda interesting

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This article describes research into using a laser aimed at a UAS/drone to activate a photoelectric cell and produce electricity to power the UAS. So far there seems to be a problem dealing with the heat, big shock there who would have thunk it. Still it is an interesting concept and given it is a defense contractor they probably have big bucks to throw at it.


https://defensesystems.com/articles/2018/09/06/laser-powered-drone.aspx
 

Pelagius

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Divergence is going to be critical. At what distance? It seems a little far fetched,

This article describes research into using a laser aimed at a UAS/drone to activate a photoelectric cell and produce electricity to power the UAS. So far there seems to be a problem dealing with the heat, big shock there who would have thunk it. Still it is an interesting concept and given it is a defense contractor they probably have big bucks to throw at it.


https://defensesystems.com/articles/2018/09/06/laser-powered-drone.aspx
 

paul1598419

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Seems to me a better idea would be to put solar cells on the upper canopy of the drone and charge it with sunlight. But, that doesn't have the wow factor that doing it with a laser would.
 

RA_pierce

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Seems to me a better idea would be to put solar cells on the upper canopy of the drone and charge it with sunlight. But, that doesn't have the wow factor that doing it with a laser would.
But it also isn't limited by distance to a base equipped with the laser charger.
Addendum: I mean, if you're within range of a base to charge with a laser, you might as well just land the damned thing, plug it in/refuel, and send it back out. How long would that take compared to charging on the fly? You'd need to charge the drone faster than it's being depleted since it's staying in the air. There are so many things that could go wrong with using a laser to charge and it's so inefficient it doesn't make sense.

It seems to me that the more obvious and practical solution would be lighter, longer-lasting batteries.
Laser charging and solar panels add hardware, which adds weight, which increases power output to maintain flight, which reduces flight time.
 

paul1598419

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Yes, new higher power density batteries would be a great option. Unfortunately, I don't see them being produced. The chemistry of better batteries may not be a real option. I don't see the laser as being an option either.
 
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Playing the devil's advocate I would point out that if you were in an FOB it would be nice to have a UAS flying in a circle say 1,000 feet above the base with good cameras scanning the area 24/7. If the truth be known most flying with current vehicles is LOS (in fact FAA rules require Line Of Sight flying without special permission). I am not aware of any realistic solar powered vehicle. I know there have been some that were impressive for some things, but they were very fragile and flew very high to avoid wind and rain. Currently the US Army has some field use vehicles that fit in a backpack, have pop out wings, are used for short range scouting by squad or patrol level missions. They are quite robust and capable of withstanding a hit from an AK47. While a Godsend for soldiers in the field they are only capable of maybe a 20 minute flight.

I do understand some of the problems, the most obvious being dealing with the heat issue. But I also get that if it was possible to provide energy to a flying vehicle from the ground to allow unlimited air time it would be a huge breakthrough.
 

CurtisOliver

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This would be a pain to get functioning in reality. Although it would work if carefully thought out. I have a solar power windmill that I have remotely powered using a laser. But at this sort of scale its feasibility starts going out the window when there are other solutions to the problem.
 




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