The tech behind indefinitely flying drones exhibited at the CES 2019

Drone being charged wirelessly. Credit: CES 2019

Drones are also called as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) because they do not have any human pilot on-board. Instead, they are controlled by a person from ground or by a computer program.

They are used mostly in the area of military as there is no risk for the pilot and they don’t require resting. Their applications are not just limited to military. There is a growing interest of drones these days in many areas including aerial photography, agriculture, search and rescue, shipping and delivery, 3D mapping, safety surveillance and even in transportation

The problem with drones

The major problem with drones is that they have a low battery life. The best drones have a battery life of just 30 minutes. Other lesser quality drones need to be recharged every 10 – 15 minutes.

If you want to have a longer session with your drone, you have to carry extra batteries and replace them at regular intervals. This causes real inconvenience as you have to stop what you are doing every time to replace batteries.

What if your drone can be wirelessly charged in the air while flying? What if you don’t have to land your drone for replacing batteries? Well, there is a great news for drone users who want to enjoy longer flight durations.

Wireless charging of drones while flying

Global Energy Transmission (GET) Corporation based in the US developed a wireless charging technology for drones that allows to charge them while they are still in flight. Now you can fly your drones indefinitely without having to worry about their battery life. They have exhibited their technology at the CES 2019.

The technology enables drones to get recharged on the go by just hovering for a few minutes across power hotspots spread apart.

GET drone being wirelessly charged over the charging cloud. Credit: CES 2019

The basic system developed by GET corporation has a power cloud with a diameter of 100 feet and two drones. The drones are equipped with wireless power receiving antenna and a rapid charging system. The GET system costs $120000 which is pretty expensive. $80000 is for the power cloud. Initial installation, training, annual maintenance and support service come with the purchase.

GET power receiver on the drone. Credit: CES 2019

The basic package can be expanded with additional charging stations and drones as per your personal needs.

GET corporation also says that they offer an additional GET autonomous power module to supply electricity to GET charging stations in remote areas with limited access to electricity.

Kallman, co-founder of GET corporation at CES 2019 says that they have the world’s first electromagnetic flight. He says the power cloud operates at 100KHz frequency and is SEC approved and does not interfere with other electronics. The field density is safe and below WHO limits. He claims that these drones get fully charged in 8 minutes and can fly for 30 minutes before another recharge. He also says that multiple drones can be charged at the same time over the cloud. Watch his interview at the CES 2019 here.

In-flight wireless charging demo

The patent

GET corporation filed for an US patent for this technology in September 2017. The inventors are Sergey Plekhanov & Leonid Plekhanov. The patent was granted by the USPTO in May 2018.

The patent says,

“In a first example, a wireless power transfer system is provided. The wireless power transfer system may include a transmitter transducer, a signal generator and one or more power receivers. The transmitter transducer may produce a magnetic field in a power transfer region during conduction of a transmission signal. The signal generator may be configured to be electrically connected to the transmitter transducer. The signal generator may be configured to receive a first power signal from a power source.

In addition, the signal generator may be configured to generate an alternating current transmission signal having a transmission frequency of at least 500 Hz from the first power signal. Moreover, the signal generator may be configured to transmit the transmission signal to the transmitter transducer at the transmission frequency.”

“The one or more power receivers may be configured to be electrically connected to respective one or more loads. Each of the one or more power receivers may include a receiver transducer and a power processor. The receiver transducer may be configured to be configured to inductively receive a time varying magnetic flux of the magnetic field transmitted from the transmitter transducer when the receiver transducer is disposed in the power transfer region.”

“In addition, the receiver transducer may be configured to convert the time varying magnetic flux to a second power signal. The second power signal may be a time varying power signal. The second power signal may have the transmission frequency of the transmission signal. The power processor may be electrically connected to the receiver transducer. The power processor may be configured to convert the second power signal to a third power signal appropriate for the respective one or more loads.”

From the patent

 Block diagram of a wireless power transfer system for transferring wirelessly power to one or more devices. Credit: The USPTO

This is amazing technology as the drones can fly forever and they need no landing for a recharge. But, will it gain sufficient interest among users? We need to wait and see.

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6 thoughts on “The tech behind indefinitely flying drones exhibited at the CES 2019

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