Watch this drone charge without landing

Image: Imperial College London


Researchers at Imperial College London demonstrated a method for charging a drone while it flies.

Drones vary in size, performance, and durability, but one spec that is woefully standard is short battery life. Sure, some military and research UAVs can stay in the air long enough to travel thousands of miles, but they are much too large, stiff, and expensive for most recreational or commercial purposes.

Most popular quadcopters can only fly for about 20 minutes before they need to be recharged. Now, scientists at Imperial College London have demonstrated a potential solution, with a system that enables a drone to wirelessly charge by hovering over a transmitter.

Although this is an exciting breakthrough that could eliminate many headaches and expand the possibilities for drones, the basic technology is more than a century old. The charging system uses inductive coupling, which involves transferring energy between two devices via an invisible electromagnetic field. It’s the same method that is used for electronic toothbrushes, wireless cell phone chargers, and the experimental roads that wirelessly charge electronic vehicles.

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