Worried about your beloved drone having to halt its airborne journey to recharge? This concern could soon become a thing of the past, thanks to a new innovation called inductive coupling. Experts believe that this technology could very well lead to drones with limitless flight times.
While drones are fairly new, the technology that could allow them to stay airborne forever is actually over one hundred years old. The concept of inductive coupling was invented by Nikola Tesla, and allows the transfer of electromagnetic energy from one coil to another along a specific frequency.
Scientists at Imperial College London were the first to see that this technology could have a place in the futuristic world of drones, and indeed could lead to those devices never having to return to Earth again. Although smart phones and other technologies have enjoyed the benefits of wireless charging, this is the first time such technology has been applied to any sort of airborne devices.
So how would drones achieve mid-flight charges? A transmitter device is set up on the ground, using the coil technology pioneered by Tesla, to create a charged magnetic field. The drone is modified, its battery removed, and copper wiring added on. Then, when the aircraft flies through the magnetic field, scientists showed conclusively that it had in fact received a surge of energy thanks to inductive coupling.
As impressive as this is, drone owners and lovers will have to wait a bit before engaging in their own airborne recharging adventures. It all comes down to an issue of logistics: as of right now, the device can only charge drones when they’re within four inches of each other. That’s a prohibitively small distance, and a roadblock the scientists still have to overcome.
But don’t be discouraged; the engineers behind this innovation believe that they’re just one year away from a commercially viable version of the device. And when this power panel does hit the market, it may be the end of drones having to return to ground to recharge ever again.