This technology could recharge drones wirelessly over long distances

Dr Ifana Mahbub (left) and her team of researchers are developing a wireless technology for recharging drones in flight. — AFP Relaxnews

A researcher at the University of Texas at Dallas has developed a new wireless technology for recharging drones in flight using electromagnetic waves.

Dr Ifana Mahbub, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas, has received a grant from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to continue her research into the development of a wireless system for recharging drones in flight.

This wireless technology transfers electromagnetic waves to the drone, even from great distances. Referred to as far-field wireless power transfer, it would enable drones to fly for much longer, without having to land to recharge their batteries. The idea, for the military, would be to entrust drones with longer and more distant missions.

The main challenge in delivering power over long distances is to prevent the electromagnetic waves from dispersing along the way. To solve this problem, the research team developed a system of transmitters consisting of small phased-array antennas designed to direct electromagnetic waves along a targeted path. Their ultimate aim is to engineer the waveform in such a way as to minimize the loss of trajectory to the drone. To achieve this, the system also incorporates telemetry tools to track the drone's movements in real time and ensure that the signal travels in the right direction.

One day, this type of technology could be adapted to other types of device, from the largest (electric cars) to the smallest (wearables), in addition to being used to power drones (military or domestic).

However, to facilitate the far-field recharging of vehicles or phones, transmitters would have to be installed in buildings. But that's a long way off. – AFP Relaxnews

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