Drones are incredible. They can reach elevations previously only available to birds and airplanes. A drone can provide its owner with a view normally unseen. You see, we humans are tethered to the earth below us. Only our machines can get off this rock, on to elevations way beyond our own reach.
While these flying machines can soar to the skies, they still have very glaring weaknesses.
Most these weaknesses, hopefully, can receive solutions in the near future. Today’s drones’ main problem are their battery capacities, which limit both their range and their flight time. A battery of a drone is the main indication on how long you can enjoy seeing the skies. The battery also dictates how far a drone can travel before requiring maintenance.
While a glaring problem admittedly, a rather ambitious solution may be coming soon. This solution looks like it came straight out of a science fiction movie. But apparently, it may be closer to reality than any of us realize.
Laser Beam Recharging:
The idea is for drones to be charged remotely (while still airborne) by a laser beam. Yes, a laser coming from a source on the ground. With this, theoretically, a drone can fly forever without ever landing for recharging. Now you may be saying, but that’s just too ridiculous to be real! Well, a similar concept from a much larger-scale drone comes to mind. The Zephyr S by Airbus can go (again, theoretically) for months without landing by using its solar panels to recharge. The laser beam plan uses a bit of this concept, where the ‘laser beam’ fires to a drone’s built-in solar panels to act as backup power. The drones would still need batteries, but as their supply lowers, they can simply get their fuel from the solar panels.
This laser beam idea comes from the minds at The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). With it, they plan to fuel drones continuously while it is still in flight. They are claiming that this laser beam project can recharge drones as far as 6.8 miles away.
Of course, the idea has some holes in it. For one, lasers weaken in intensity the longer they air in the air. Travel distance would be a major factor. Another factor is the obstacles the laser, a beam of light, would face on route to the target. Clouds, smoke, rain, and other environmental factors can disrupt the light signals.
The laser beam idea may sound great, but it is still a long way to go. Now, our drones still require constant recharging before going back into the skies above.