Scientists discovered a way to charge drones mid-air

Scientists from Imperial College London demonstrated an efficient method for wirelessly charging a drone while it’s flying. The group used inductive coupling a century-old concept which was first made possible by inventor Nikola Tesla in the late 1800s.

The technology uses inductive coupling in which two copper coils are tuned to one another to create a wireless exchange of power at a certain frequency. Until now, scientists have been experimenting with this technology for decades, but failed to wirelessly power flying technology.

They intend to use this type of charging to address the limitations of how long drones can stay in the air because of the need to re-charge. For now, they were able to use the technology to charge about 4.7 inches quadcopter drone while it flew 3.9 inches above its transmission source.

Professor Paul Mitcheson, from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Imperial College London, said: “Imagine using a drone to wirelessly transmit power to sensors on things such as bridges to monitor their structural integrity. This would cut out humans having to reach these difficult to access places to re-charge them.

In the future, we may also be able to use drones to re-charge science equipment on Mars, increasing the lifetime of these billion dollar missions. We have already made valuable progress with this technology and now we are looking to take it to the next level.

Drones are more formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). It is a flying robot that may be remotely controlled or can fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems working in conjunction with GPS.

Resonant inductive coupling is the near field wireless transmission of electrical energy between two magnetically coupled coils that are part of resonant circuits tuned to resonate at the same frequency. This process occurs in a resonant transformer, an electrical component which consists of two high Q coils wound on the same core with capacitors connected across the windings to make two coupled LC circuits. Resonant transformers are widely used in radio circuits as bandpass filters, and in switching power supplies.

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