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Drones to achieve “unlimited flight” using wireless charging

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In commercial operations, a drone running out of battery costs time and money.

Even the best commercial drones struggle to stay in the air much beyond 30 minutes and that can interfere with important tasks such as powerline or mine inspections, transporting important goods such as human organs or spraying crops on farms.

The average battery life across all drones is around 22 minutes and models like the DJI Inspire 2 top out at 27 minutes. Battery life, or rather the lack of it, is a topic we’ve covered multiple times and is one of the single biggest factors holding back the full potential of drones.

We’ve previously written about this drone with 96 batteries which can fly for up to two hours and we looked at whether hydrogen fuel cells could be the solution to poor drone battery life. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year however, one company, Global Energy Transmission, showed off its impressive wireless drone charging solution.

The company is based in Portland, Oregon, and have developed wireless hotspot charging spots, (see cover image or by watching video below). In order for a drone to be capable of receiving a charge from the hot spot, they must first be fitted with a GET recharging pack. Once that is in place, an electric, industrial-class drone (such as a Matrice 600) may simply hover over one of these spots for six minutes and achieve a full charge. The drones they’ve used for testing this technology weighed 18 lbs without the battery and 30 pounds at takeoff. Without charge, it can stay airborne for 28 minutes. The maximum flight speed for the drone is about 37 mph (60 kph). They recommend servicing every 300-1000 flight hours.

The company is billing its innovation as “the ultimate solution for unlimited flight.”

We’re not sure about “unlimited” but the company have posted a video online of one of their drones flying for 2 hours continuously.

Each charging spot is a hexagonal shape standing 26 feet across which makes it large enough for several drones to hover over and simultaneously charge. One can envision such technology being particularly useful at a drone delivery warehouse, for example. The beauty of this system is that, if the charging stations are placed at convenient locations along a flight route (say every 5 miles), the potential distance a drone can travel becomes virtually unlimited.

Check out a video of the wirless charger in action:

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