Gadgets for humans

Experiment proves future drones may not need batteries

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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Published September 23, 2016 — 19:54 UTC

Wirelessly powered quadrotor on