An unmanned Pelican quadrocopter recently broke the endurance record for laser-powered hovering after spending more than 12 hours airborne. That crushes the previous record of six hours of laser-beam-powered flight.
The quadrocopter was powered solely by laser power beaming: A set of photovoltaic panels on the craft’s underside converts laser beams into power, wirelessly transferring an endless supply of energy to keep it hovering at about 30 feet. The actual demonstration doesn't go much further than that--it's not doing barrel rolls or anything--but 12 hours of continuous flight is pretty impressive.
The accomplishment could make it easier for the company to introduce its technology into military UAV’s, which could certainly make use of the wirelessly beamed power.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.