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This article was published on September 23, 2016

Experiment proves future drones may not need batteries

Experiment proves future drones may not need batteries
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

On a single charge, the average consumer drone only nets about eight to 10 minutes of flight time. The solution is obvious: stuff a bigger battery into it. Problem is, the solution adds weight, which decreases flight time. It’s the ultimate catch-22.

Dr. Samer Aldhaher of the Imperial College London thinks he has the answer, kinda. Aldhaher created a prototype of a lightweight, battery-less drone that hovers in place and sucks power from a transmitter below. The drone is only capable of hovering and making small side-to-side movements, but the prototype proves the utility of wireless power technology.

As drones take to the skies in record numbers, a handful of large companies are looking for better power solutions to facilitate drone delivery services. Wireless power could be the answer. Granted, there’s a lot of work to be done on the infrastructure side, but demonstrations like this at least point to what could be possible.

We’re nowhere near cross-country drone flights on a single battery (or sans battery). In fact, even getting this drone to fly across a single room would require elaborate infrastructure. It doesn’t, however, quell my enthusiasm about one day ordering a bagel from New York, and waiting patiently while it flies cross-country to California. Keep hope alive.

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