Laser Powerbeaming to UAVs

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LaserMotive White Paper – Power Beaming for UAVs (9 page pdf)
Laser Motive will be competing in the 2010 Powerbeaming (Space Elevator Games) competition. The last date given for the competition is May 10, 2010. However, this would seem likely to slip as their should be word of the teams being onsite and the course being setup by now for a competition in one week.

The UAV powerbeaming is at technology readiness 5 or 6.

LaserMotive envisions three general applications for laser-powered UAVs feasible with current technology:
1. A stationary observing platform for long-­‐duration ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance). The UAV can be a quadricopter, airplane, or aerostat.
2. Extended or multi-­‐mission operations. An electric UAV is launched and flies to a target beyond laser range where it can loiter for some time. Once the on-­‐board energy storage goes below a predetermined level, the UAV flies to a location within line of sight of a recharging laser and recharges in the air.
3. Unlimited patrol. Missions that can be conducted within line-­‐of-­‐sight (~10 miles for an altitude of 1 mile) of a laser station (which may itself be moving) can be continuously powered, enabling a UAV to patrol or shadow a target indefinitely.

The following suggestions illustrate interesting systems which LaserMotive believes could be demonstrated in prototype form in ~18–24 months, using existing technology:
• Small-­‐or Micro-­‐UAV recharging with multiple UAVs, maintaining one or more vehicles “on station” while others are in transit or recharging
• High-­‐altitude (near-­‐vertical) loitering: power > 10 kWe, at a range of > 5 km (10,000 ft).
• Long-­‐range, low-­‐angle beaming: > 10 kWe, horizontal range > 5 km, vertical range > 1.5 km.

Point to Point Powerbeaming
LaserMotive’s Point-to-Point (P2P) Power Link is a ground-based version of our long-range laser power link technology, providing power to remote devices without the need for wires.

Perimeter sensors for military bases or field units can benefit from the P2P Power Link, by eliminating the need to run expensive copper wires over long distances or to send personnel out into dangerous areas to swap batteries.

Field units or temporary bases can receive electrical power via the P2P Power Link, eliminating the need to truck fuel through dangerous locations.

Communication relay towers can be deployed on remote mountaintops and powered by the P2P Power Link without needing a logistically difficult power supply line.

Further Reading
Xconomy has a feature on LaserMotive.

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