Wireless In-Flight Drone Recharging Tech For Prime Air

by | Jun 30, 2021

Amazon Prime Air is a drone delivery service that Amazon has been touting for almost four years now.

Amazon’s drone delivery service delivered its first package on December 7, 2016. Almost four years later, it’s still a “future delivery system.”

What’s missing?

Probably something like wireless in-flight drone recharging from the tiny Portland-based Global Energy Transmission, which has demonstrated fast wireless charging for drones that gives delivery, inspection, or surveillance drones essentially unlimited range.

Charge time? Just six minutes.

“Like with a regular car when you need more gas, you just go to the closest charging station,” Leonid Plekhanov told me on a recent episode of the TechFirst podcast. “Spend a few minutes there to fill in your tank and then you just continue your mission.”

We’re mostly familiar with wireless charging for smartphones. That’s slow, generally using about five watts of output via inductive charging technology. Global Energy Transmission’s technology can charge multiple drones simultaneously with a maximum output of 12 kilowatts via magnetic resonant coupling. The system feeds power directly to the drone — it could fly indefinitely above a charging station without a battery — while also charging the battery.

In just a few minutes, the drone is fully charged and able to complete a delivery or resume a task.

The result is that you unlock the power of the drone economy.

With on-the-go charging, fleets of delivery drones go from impossible over anything other than very short ranges to doable at city scale. Security drones go from episodic usability to full-time station-keeping capability. Inspection drones for infrastructure or agriculture go from operator-dependent short-range tasks to autonomous long-range usefulness.

Listen to the interview behind this story:

“We think that this is a piece of high power wireless energy distribution infrastructure,” Plekhanov says. “The idea is that we really want to build a network to connect people with the third dimension … with the sky.”

In-air charging also sidesteps onerous FAA regulations.

Because FAA regulations require inspections after every landing, Plekhanov says, recharging mid-flight without landing allows not only longer range but continuous operation.

Enabling wireless in-air charging requires a number of components. First is the charging station itself, of course. It’s perhaps the size of a small tree but fairly lightweight and could easily be deployed on most building roofs. Drones need a receiving antenna and an AC to DC transformer that can handle high power loads with light weight. Plekhanov says this is a key piece of Global Energy Transmission’s technology: building a high-power transformer that weighs just a couple hundred grams.

And, of course, you need a battery. While theoretically just about any battery will do the job, you are dumping a lot of power into the battery in a short period of time. Batteries that support a 10C charging rate work well in this scenario.

An example of the wireless in-air drone charging station in operation.

An example of the wireless in-air drone charging station in operation.

Drones don’t need to be incredibly close to any one point to charge. Anything within “several meters” — about six to nine feet — works.

The technology is working and demonstrable. Like the Tesla Supercharger network, it simple needs to be built out. A few thousand would cover the most-populated areas of an average country.

“For a big city, you probably need 100 of such stations, which is not a really big deal for a city with millions and millions of people,” Plekhanov told me. “And then the same network can be utilized by many, many companies, you know, for needs and services and applications, whatever they are going to do.”

For longer applications, you could apply a hub and spoke arrangement with a few branches, connecting nearby cities and enabling longer flight routes if necessary.

Interestingly, Global Energy Transmission’s technology doesn’t just work in the air. It also works underwater, and the company has done proof-of-concept testing for oil and gas companies that use autonomous submarine drones to inspect pipelines or other infrastructure.

“We can achieve quite high efficiency there as well,” Plekhanov says. “And we can transmit many kilowatts of power, again, at a distance of a meter or couple of meters without any plug-in connection.”

The hard question, of course, is that of chicken and egg.

Wireless drone charging is a great solution for drone deliveries … if all the software, management, regulatory, and business infrastructure is also in place. Given that companies like Amazon have been trying to commercialize drone deliveries for four years, now might be a good time, but it’s hard to build out a charging network without a big client that needs it tomorrow.

The good news for Global Energy Transmission, however, is that its technology is also useful for applications where you might need just one charging station: security drones, or agtech applications, where farmers might have one or more drones monitoring their fields, crops, and equipment.

This past summer Dominos delivered a pizza to a customer on a beach via a drone. If we want that to become more commonplace than gimmick, this is the kind of charging station buildout that we need.

Credit: forbes.com

Content retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoetsier/2020/10/18/amazon-needs-this-wireless-in-flight-drone-recharging-tech-for-prime-air/?sh=42799308195b.

Robot compare

Science Fiction or Science Fact?

Is there a difference between Science Fiction and Science Fact? Well in most cases there are, however as technology relentlessly moves forward the line between

World’s biggest drone — a 28-ton autonomous behemoth

Alabama rocket startup Aevum just unveiled the world’s biggest drone — a 28-ton autonomous behemoth that may soon rocket US military satellites into orbit Jay Skylus, the CEO of autonomous launch startup Aevum, stands in front of a Ravn X rocket-launching drone. Aevum Aevum, a quiet, scrappy, and ambitious rocket-launch startup, unveiled the biggest drone […]

3d printed rocket Relativity

3D printed rockets – the future of space exploration

Full-duration test of Aeon 1 rocket engine. Relativity Space said Monday that the company has successfully completed a full-duration test-firing of its Aeon 1 rocket engine, running it at full power for 187 seconds. The test at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi took place with all of the engine’s key components—including turbopumps, injector, and […]

Drone Privacy Laws Around the World

As the use of drones expands around the world — according to the Federal Aviation Administration, there are currently 1.7 million drones registered in the United States alone — lawmakers have been faced with new and complex regulatory challenges to protect the privacy of ordinary citizens. The increased prevalence of drones has raised the prospect […]

Switching to Skydio and Increase Per-Pilot Revenue 37%

This blog is a teaser and summary of a longer-form written case study, available here at Skydio.com. One of the best parts of my job is talking to customers and listening to their stories about the way that Skydio 2 is changing the way they fly and in some cases, the way they fundamentally do […]

Fotokite – Tethered 24hr First Responder Drone

Fotokite already offers a clever response to two challenges for deploying drones: limited battery life and the need for a certified pilot. And now it’s tackling a third challenge with its new product: How to deploy a drone as quickly as possible in a first responder situation. Drones can be a tremendous asset to first […]

Skydio Autonomy™. A new age of drone intelligence

In last week’s blog, I shared with you some of the ways Skydio X2 was built to meet the needs of some of the drone industry’s most forward-thinking fleets. This week, I’d like to share some ideas about autonomy — what true autonomy is and why it matters, and how it will impact drone operations […]

DRONAMICS Announces World’s First Cargo Droneport Network

DRONAMICS, the world’s leading middle-mile cargo drone developer and operator, today unveiled the first 5 airports in its European network of cargo droneports. The DRONAMICS European Droneport Network is the world’s first cargo droneport network and includes private airports and airport groups operating more than 35 airports in 11 European countries, connecting 300 million […]

Non-Stop Flight from California to Sicily Completes NATO UAV Squadron

An RQ-4D Phoenix UAV from Northrop Grumman Corporation completed a 20-hour non-stop trans-Atlantic flight from California to Sicily, where it joined the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) squadron on Nov. 12 at Sigonella Air Base. The air vehicle is the last of five NATO RQ-4D aircraft, completing deliveries to the Main Operating Base (MOB) of […]

Anti-Jam GPS for Army’s Gray Eagle UAV Awarded to Cobham

For its flagship Gray Eagle UAV, the U.S. Army with lead contractor General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has selected an anti-jam GPS system from Cobham Aerospace Connectivity. The MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) platform is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) developed as an upgrade to the MQ-1 […]

Request a NO OBLIGATION quote

The cost of a survey or inspection is simple to calculate, but is dependant on the mission and its location. Please provide details in order to complete an accurate quotation.  Get in touch we’ll be happy to provide a no obligation quotation

“Opportunities for the commercial application of drones is set to continue to grow…”

Digital Marketing Solutions

Have you looked at creating a promo for your business and found it too costly and complicated?

It’s time to impress your client base with affordable marketing solutions from Helix UAV. We can create a fully edited promotional film or you can have the raw footage (it’s yours).

To take your businesses potential to the next level lets show them what you’ve got.

3D imaging of objects and structures that can be interactively manipulated on your web page for your marketing purposes is now possible. You no longer need NASA you need Helix UAV.

Aerial Inspection

Aerial Surveying

Aerial Media

Aerial Imaging

Icon Logo for Helix UAV Drone Services 2

CORONAVIRUS

 

Government organisations or subsidiaries wishing to request assistance from Helix UAV during this extremely difficult time can send their requests via our dedicated email address:

 

coronavirus@helixuav.com

 

07480 041928

 

Please use the form below if you wish to subscribe to our news service. Please follow government guidelines and stay safe

 

HELIX UAV

 

 
 
 

You have sent your message