Laser Lofts UAV for Two Day Flight

How can tiny UAVs stay in the air for a long time without heavy batteries? It may be possible to power them from the ground.


(Stalker UAV in flight)

Lockheed Martin and LaserMotive have developed a laser system that can recharge an unmanned aerial vehicle in flight potentially keeping them in the sky for indefinite periods.

Engineers with the company tested the system in its Stalker UAV in an indoor test in which the drone flew for 48 hours. The drone can recharge its 2-hour battery in flight by linking up with a laser system being beamed from the ground.

“This test is one of the final steps in bringing laser-powered flight to the field,” said Tom Nugent, president of LaserMotive. “By enabling in-flight recharging, this system will ultimately extend capabilities, improve endurance and enable new missions for electric aircraft.”

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle wrote about laser cannon in their 1974 novel Mote in God's Eye, which provided ground-based power to space craft:

..."The intruder came from here. Whoever launched it fired a laser cannon, or a set of laser cannon - probably a whole mess of them on asteroids, with mirrors to focus them - for about forty-five years, so the intruder would have a beam to travel on...
(Read more about laser cannon)

The basic idea for the laser cannon/light sail propulsion system belongs to Robert L. Forward, who published a short paper Ground-Based Lasers For Propulsion In Space in 1961.

Via defensetech.

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