With the surge of drone-in-a-box systems propelled by the newly released DJI drone dock, many drone manufacturers started implementing their own drone docks too.
Automatically and remotely charge fleets of batteries whose conditions are ever-changing requires, however, a granular control of the battery health and its charging process.
The Skycharge team have been developing smart-charging systems since 2015, when the 500W charge source was brought to market. This was followed by a 750W unit, in 2021.
Now, with Skycharge’s new 1500W charge source unit, drones can charge, with wired efficiency, up to five times faster than via inductive/magnetic resonance rivals’ 300W systems.
The Skycharge system has two key components: a lightweight charge sink, mounted to your drone, and a charge source, typically installed on the ground and connected to AC.
The charge sink units
The sink comes in two variants: the LIGHT sink, which weighs just 16g and can handle currents up to 20 amps; and the PLC (power line communication) sink, which weighs 28g and can handle currents up to 30 amps.
The Skycharge system is typically used alongside a contact-based docking station or charging pad, such as Skycharge’s Bolognini S1, and drone-mounted contacts.
When the contacts touch the charging pad, the charge source detects the charge sink and charging automatically begins; the charging pad supplies power from the charge source, via the contacts and the sink, to the battery.
The charge source units
Measuring 410 mm x 315 mm x 150 mm, Skycharge’s source charging units are built for inhospitable conditions, with a rugged, dustproof IP55 aluminum alloy casing.
The 750W model supports up to nine output terminals and delivers between 11 and 57 volts DC. The 1500W model supports two output terminals and is available in two configurations: 9.6-30 volts DC and 19.2-60 volts DC.
When a charge source is connected to a PLC charge sink, a data link over the power line is established between source and sink, and data can be transferred in both directions. This feature is typically used to allow the charge source to take into consideration the battery data including SoC, SoH, and any other user data, such as drone identification for example.
Both models incorporate sink detection, and redundant short-circuit protection, making contact-charging safe and reliable. The charge source is equipped with a BeagleBone Black computer board, running Linux and an ETH port for remote management. Skycharge open SDK (Skycharge’s Software Development Kit) allows seamless connections to each charge source to remotely monitor and control all aspects of charging and battery health.
The Skycharge system is available to new clients through its development kit, where users receive all necessary support to ensure their first Skycharge implementation runs smoothly: https://www.skycharge.de/charging-system
“Major drone manufacturers, DiaB (drone-in-a-box) and DoD suppliers have already successfully implemented the Skycharge system in a wide range of use cases,” says Andrea Puiatti, Chief Executive Officer at Skycharge. “The launch of our new 1500W system renews our commitment to provide the fastest and most lightweight charging system for drones. The unique ability to dynamically take into consideration battery type, state of health, and use-case requirements, makes it the most programmable on the market.”