menu

Drones Can Now Perch on Power Lines to Recharge

technology

MIT researchers have created flying drones that can recharge on power lines rather than returning to base when they run out of batteries

Nestor Bailly, PSFK
  • 12 august 2014

You glance up at high-tension power lines while driving along the highway. You spot ominous black shapes perched on the cables, perfectly spaced apart. A murder of crows, you think, until they all suddenly fly up in formation over the road. That’s no flock … it’s a fleet!

Groups of flying drones controlled together can perform amazing tasks, from heavy lifting and large-area reconnaissance to performance art. While networked together they can do incredible things, but are limited by battery technology: eventually, the juice will run out.

However, if they could recharge in the field, unmanned aerial vehicles could have drastically increased mission scope and duration. Recharging from power lines was considered technically possible, but unlikely due to the precision required for a perch, especially when traveling at high speeds. Until now.

Three MIT researchers, inspired by birds, have figured out a way (PDF) for very simple fixed-wing aircraft to rapidly decelerate using drag and perch on a thin wire. Using the power lines’ magnetic field, the drone targets the perch and performs a rapid stalling maneuver right before hitting it, slowing its speed and orienting a hook underneath the aircraft for capture.

The implications of a practical deployment of this technology would be huge. Small drones could fly for hours, whether they are delivering medicine, monitoring environmental conditions or searching for bad guys.

technology
Trending

Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Arts & Culture
Mobile Yesterday

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture Yesterday

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Design Yesterday

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

Fashion Yesterday

Fashionable Tassel Will Ensure You Never Lose Your Valuables Again

The device is fashion meets connected tech, that will help you keep track of your belongings at all times

PURPLELIST EXPERTS

Ian Fraser

Gaming & Technology

Syndicated Yesterday

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability Yesterday

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 24, 2016

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising Yesterday

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising Yesterday

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings

INSIGHTS COVERAGE

Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games
READ NOW

Design Yesterday

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia Yesterday

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising Yesterday

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.