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.
Kudos for LaserMotive they are one of the pioneers of the yet to be tapped beamed energy field. A team that we set up was positioned to enter the space elevator competition but our funding was pulled because of the difficult time our main sponsor had during the economic downturn.
Beamed energy is the wave of the future. It will be the greenest of the green energy because the energy can be processed at the source then beamed to anywhere on the planet and not transported over thousands of miles of pipelines, cargo ships, or power lines. Earth Based Beamed Energy will be hundreds of times less costly than space based solar energy for the same amount of power output and can be controlled from the source, on the ground -- not thousands of miles above the earth.
If you want to know where this may ultimately lead to, see here for Earth Based Beamed Energy.
I'd be interested to see if this tech can be adapted to transmit in invisible wavelengths and still reliably generate electricity using photovoltaics. (preferably weaker than visible) that way you could power all sorts of devices with invisible radiation.
Though wouldn't it depend on the efficiency. If beamed energy only keeps a small percentage of the original energy then too much is wasted for it to be practical.
Definitely something important to explore though. If it became more efficient then solar panels could be put in space where they generate much more power than under the atmosphere.
Wouldn't it be neat if we could create laser highways and do away with having to destroy the ground below and all that expensive concrete/pavement and just instead have hovering electric pods to move us around on a network of lasers setup everywhere!
Probably not very energy efficient but it certainly would be cool!
bob clemintime wrote - "Though wouldn't it depend on the efficiency."
rlb2 reply - That is one of the concerns, however cells receiving monochromic light rays (one frequency) of which lasers focus their light is much more efficient than solar cells because they can be adapted to a light source close to the photovoltaic effect that the cell material is made out of. Solar cells has a large range of frequencies that the cell material must absorb from the radiation emitted from the sun as a result have a much lower efficiency.
Monochromic light receiving cells can be higher than 80 percent efficient and radio wave receivers can be higher than 90 percent efficient from the radio waves they receive. The key is how to receive most of the energy you start with, most of the energy will be wasted (scattered) due to scattering of light from the beam.
I could see this freaking awesome down the road in travel...could you imagine using to help charge electric cars as they travel down the raod and as they are parked at work! Energy Waves!!!!POTENTIAL is ENDLESS this is the type of tech we should be investing in!
The loss of energy due to the scattering of the light beam was exactly what i was trying to get at. And i was saying that this tech should be paired with solar panels bc you need an energy source to power the lazers, the lazers are just a method of transporting the energy. (plz correct me if i am wrong with anything i say. Obviously many people on this site are far more intelligent than me. I just post things to reflect what i think and maybe have my questions answered by others so i learn more.)
I definitely think that it is great that people are making advances in this area. I am in no way putting down the tech just voicing concerns.
And that is great efficiency for the receiving component. I am impressed.
Cute little thing....hats off to the team...
I have a very simple design that if made could probably last longer, only problem would be do you need to have the battery on board or is it possible for it to stay off-board and maybe some other equipment. But I will fly I know that.
Hopefully this furthers the space elevator
"Though wouldn't it depend on the efficiency."
sort of, but not really. A UAV has to have a battery on board to fly. So this way we may be able to keep a UAV up indefinitely from lasers from the ground and/or satellites. I don't think efficiency plays into that. Its simply the idea of not need batteries and not needing to land to recharge.
I don't think anyone said this. or maybe everyone already assume this. but this isnt really going to be used for cars and the such. (it might be, but I doubt it). It to power a space elevartor. That has always been a huge hurdle. The cable it self is going to be hard enough to build, running power cables up that thing is out of the question. So beeming power using lasers is the best solution we have. We have to test with things like UAV to prove the laser can stay on point. It is not as easy as just aiming down or up the cable. There are always unforeseen mishaps. What if a laser shuts off. They need to get a back up laser aimed at the "shuttle" as fast as the they can.
Dr. A. Cannara
This has been done more efficiently, long ago, using microwaves & antennas. The problem with solar panels is how individual cells behave and lower efficiency at the edges of the beam. This is similar to what happens on common panels when a leaf shades a few cells, or a cloud shades a large area -- the unilluminated cells become resistors, wasting energy.
Microwave GHz (& soon THz)_antenna structures with associated electronics are far more sophisticated in handling such beam variations. We have to remember, current solar cells are very primitive devices, in terms of how their internal structures relate to photon capture & energy conversion. Lasers are also relatively inefficient energy-conversion devices.
Also, using lots of lasers to levitate things will make 3D flying even more of a challenge, especially for birds & bats. It's sort of like the old covers we saw on Popular Mechanics & Science, showing flying cars. Imagine folks passing current driving tests in 2D now able to levitate their abilities. There's always been "what if" followed by "what the heck?"