Recharging drones mid-air using diamonds and lasers? Sounds Good!

- Feilidh Dwyer | WeTalkUAV

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A Swiss university has manufactured tiny lab-grown diamonds which may eventually enable us to recharge consumer drones mid-air using lasers.

Researchers from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (The University of Lausanne) have developed the technology using diamonds that are just a couple of millimetres in length. The project is being worked on by the Swiss University offshoot, LakeDiamond. The innovation has potential applications ranging from recharging photovoltaic cells installed on drones and beaming data to satellites in orbit. The second application has helped this project receive funding from the Swiss Space Office.

How does it work?

Much like when you angle a magnifying glass in the right way, you can concentrate the power of sunshine to light things on fire, when laser light passes through a diamond its strength is concentrated and it can travel much further distances than would normally have been possible. Although the lasers can travel very long distances and is apparently as powerful as 10,000 laser pointers combined, they pose no threat to human health (they will not harm your eyes or skin).

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The tiny diamonds are able to concentrate laser beams in much the same way magnifying glasses can concentrate sunlight.

This project has been in development for a full decade. The lab-grown diamonds include high-transparency and thermal conductivity.

A few months ago, we brought you a story about how the military was working on a project to use lasers to help UAVs fly indefinitely The difference here is that the technology developed from the Swiss researchers could extend to the consumer market.

Why we need this technology

We’re banging the same old drum here but drone batteries are still overall an overall major weak point with most smaller consumer drones unable to remain in flight for longer than 20 minutes. Just imagine the possibilities if they could stay airborne for hours at a time?

We don’t know exactly how long a battery would take to charge using a laser beam – I couldn’t find the answer to that question in the short time researching this article. One would hope that it would be a jolt of power that had you ready to fly again quickly, rather than a slow recharge with the UAV hanging in the air for long periods. LakeDiamond’s charging technology is still being developed for field use but has achieved promising results in a lab setting.

This is a very cool project and we’re looking forward to hearing more about it in the near-term future.

Original article at WeTalkUAV, here.

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