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Drones could be recharged without disrupting their mission flight path

Published:11 October 2019

CQUni researchers are seeking to combat the energy limitations of drones. In this illustration, tUAV stands for the power transmitter, rUAV stands for the power receiver, and WPT stands for wireless power transfer.

Drones could be recharged in the air without disrupting their mission flight path, using flying base stations and wireless radiative power transfers (WRPT).

That's according to CQUniversity researchers Dr Jahan Hassan and Dr Ayub Bokani, who are focused on combating the energy limitations of drones used for civilian missions, in collaboration with Professor Salil S. Kanhere of UNSW.

"We are already seeing drones deliver useful services such as emergency blood delivery, monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef, precision agriculture, pest control and disaster management," Dr Hassan says.

"In recent years, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, have become technologically sophisticated due to the significant advances in robotics, sensor technologies, communication technologies and artificial intelligence.

"The availability of such sophisticated consumer drones at lower prices have created unprecedented opportunities for these to be considered in delivering various civil applications and services."

Dr Bokani says that drones are currently limited by the life of their on-board battery, which could reduce some flight times to as little as 18 minutes.

The CQUniversity project is not only focused on using WRPT so the drones can harvest energy in mid-flight. It's also striving to optimise energy consumption to extend flight times between charges.

"Using a branch of artificial intelligence, we are also working on jointly optimising the mechanical energy consumption which comes from UAV movements and optimising the communication energy consumption which comes from UAVs communicating with other nodes," Dr Bokani says.