If you weren’t already uncomfortable about the usage of drones over native soil (look it up), or the idea that they can be hacked by college kids (look it up), maybe this will get your attention. Practically unlimited flight time is upon us.
If the privacy issues surrounding aerial drones have you worried, then Lockheed Martin’s recent demonstration of a Stalker drone charged by lasers likely won’t change that. The company flew its 13.2-pound surveillance drone in a wind tunnel while a laser system from a company called LaserMotive wirelessly transferred power to it. After 48 hours of continuous flight, the drones’ batteries were far from depletion — they actually had moreelectricity stored than when the tests began. Tom Koonce, Stalker program manager, said “[a] ground-to-air recharging system like this allows us to provide practically unlimited flight endurance to extend and expand the mission profiles that the Stalker vehicle can fulfill.”
As impressive a test result as this is, LaserMotive’s laser charging system still has yet to be used in the field. LaserMotive president Tom Nugent said “[the] next step in proving the reality of this technology is to demonstrate it outdoors in an extended flight of the Stalker.” While line-of-sight is an obvious limitation in a laser-based recharging system, anything that offers “unlimited flight endurance” is sure to have defense contractors excited.
My tits quiver in ph33r.