Most consumer-use drones offer a flight time of anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes. While the idea of simply using a larger battery to extend that time seems ideal, it actually results in increased weight for the drone, in turn reducing its flight time. It’s this dilemma that prompted one researcher to create a prototype drone that can fly non-stop without the use of battery.
The Imperial College London’s Dr. Samer Aldhaher created a small, lightweight drone that instead draws power from a wireless transmitter below it. There’s a lot of limitations at this point, of course, such as the need for the drone to only hover five inches above the transmitter with minimal sideways movement, but it’s still a decent start at non-battery dependent tech.
The other thing to note is that Aldhaher’s creation is based on using custom, home-made hardware. And the high-frequency power switching is likely to put a lot of wear and tear on the transistors, meaning cheap components aren’t going to last very long.
It’s nice to imagine this technology being used to make long-range drone flights a reality, but the truth is that’s still a long ways off. Implementing this for real-world use would require a massive infrastructure overhaul — just using it to fly across a single room would take a lot of work. But if we continue to see wireless power solutions develop at the rate of other high profile tech, it may not be that far off.