first published on October 15, 2019 by Funker
An aerial recharger has reportedly been developed that allows other battery powered drones to extend their flight time significantly.
Researchers at the High Performance Robotics Laboratory (HiPeRLab) at the University of California – Berkeley have designed, built, and tested a flying robot docking station that allows a smaller drone to land on it and recharge.
Once landed, the larger, hovering drone station transfers power into the smaller work drone’s battery cells, doubling its flight time.
But wait, there’s more.
A third “feeder” drone can be incorporated into the system, which brings fully charged batteries from the ground to the larger aerial recharger station to replace the spent ones. By incorporating the actions of the third feeder unit, the process can extend the flight duration of the work drone nearly five times.
Small electrical drones are becoming more prevalent with front line units, because the assets give the troops realtime information when they need it, rather than waiting for a large UAV to come on station, which may already be in use by other units in the theater of operations or too far away for timely intel.
While battery technology has improved significantly in recent years, man portable quadcopter type units have limited flight time due to battery life. To increase individual battery life, batteries have to be made larger and heavier, which means the drone would have to become larger, heavier, and less portable. However, recharging or switching out batteries allows these aerial assets to stay small in size.
HiPeRLab’s hovering docking station offers a solution to one of the inherent limitations of battery operated aerial devices, and we’re likely to see this concept adopted and expanded to the military domain.