Crazy as it sounds, it actually real and it works really well. Lockheed Martin just wrapped up a successful 48-hour test using LaserMotive’s laser recharging system to extend the flight time of its Stalker Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) in a wind tunnel.
Mid-air refueling currently happens with sort of aerial ballet between an aircraft linking up with a huge fuel tanker plane. LaserMotive’s system uses a ground based laser that beams energy directly to a UAV’s solar panels, usually located at it wings, while it flies around.
The scientists ran a stress test of their system to see if the laser could provide a source of continuous energy to the Stalker as it flew non-stop in a wind tunnel. At the end of the trial, the battery on the Stalker UAS actually held more electricity in it than it did at the beginning of the test. The scientists only ended the trial because the UAS and power system had both exceeded their original endurance goals.
It sounds like great technology for the military and areospace sectors, but we can’t wait for the commercial version of this technology. Recharging lasers sound like a much cooler wireless charging option than induction mats.