A team of Chinese researchers from Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) has successfully powered a drone using high-energy laser beams, effectively keeping it in the air “forever.” Ironically, this is also one of the rare instances where Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) like lasers, usually used in anti-drone systems to bring down unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), are purposed towards keeping them afloat.
The technology has significant military applications and potentially revolutionizes how drones are designed and used in warfare and for civilian applications.
The elimination of an onboard power source because of the wireless energy transfer frees up space for many other systems with various applications.
But most importantly, the nearly 24-hour endurance offers limitless options and flexibility in areas like disaster management, traffic management, and search and rescue during floods, landslides, and avalanches.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported the development by the team led by NPU’s Professor Li Xuelong, who decided to approach the “drone-laser relationship from another angle.”