AscTec Pelican

Laser charged multicopter flies for 12 hours.

Not quite the longest ever electric flight as touted by some pundits, that honour belongs to QinetiQ and the Zephyr. Ascending Technologies Jan Stumpf and Michael Achtelik monitored a Pelican quadrocopter modified to receive power from several laser pointers focused on a photovoltaic cell mounted on the airframe. The internal battery was then charged using power generated by the photovoltaic cell.

The flight took place indoors at the Future of Flight Aviation Center in Mukilteo, WA.

LaserMotive is a Seattle-based company developing laser power beaming systems to transmit electricity without wires, for applications where wires are either cost prohibitive or physically impractical. The company last year won $900,000 in the NASA Power Beaming Challenge,one of the levels of the “Space Elevator Games.”

Will this prove to be a practical game changing application of the laser technology? Only time will tell.

But hovering platforms that can stay in flight all day. Providing over the hill or around the corner intelligence, have to look attractive to the military. The Honeywell T-Hawk might have company on the battlefield soon. Just imagine an Ascending Technologies Falcon 8 with its proven flight performance in windy conditions equipped with LaserMotives power system.


By Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.