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

DIY Kit Lets You Build Your Own Wooden Bike, Boat Or Caravan

Design & Architecture
Culture Yesterday

Messaging Add-On Helps You Correct Your Friends’ Bad Grammar

An iMessage sticker pack will help you copyedit text messages

Automotive Yesterday

Mercedes-Benz Introduces A New Electric Mobility Brand

The separate entity aims to simplify the identification of Mercedes EV products to customers

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Mobile Yesterday

Tinder’s New Feature Makes Swiping A Group Effort

The dating app wants to democratize its gestural interaction by buying in to the social polling trend pervasive among millennials

Related Expert

DJ Roller

Explorer, Filmmaker, Visual artist

Syndicated Yesterday

Autonomous Garbage Drone Prevents Trash From Reaching Deep Ocean

The solar-powered WasteShark collects refuse closer to the source: the harbor

Automotive Yesterday

Aston Martin Reveals Its Own Luxury Powerboat

The sleek AM37 echoes styling elements from the British brand's sports cars

Advertising Yesterday

An Escort Website Fights Violence Against Sex Workers

The advocacy campaign from McCann aims uncover the human toll of the exploitative industry

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed september 27, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs september 29, 2016

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Culture Yesterday

LIFE Magazine Relaunches In Pure VR

The general interest periodical, which ceased publication in 2000, has turned into a portal for virtual reality content

Mobile Yesterday

Reorder This Detox Drink With A Simple Text Message

Dirty Lemon is streamlining its communication by letting customers place orders, ask product questions and request help exclusively through chat

Op-Ed Yesterday

The Future Of The American Workforce Requires Unbundling College Education

President of JetBlue Technology Ventures: developing corporate education programs for non-traditional students

Retail Yesterday

Gilt’s Pop-Up House Is The Kind Of Store You’ll Want To Live In

The New York City townhouse plays host to the latest in retail inspiration, curation, and lifestyle activation (and some libations, too)

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Mobile Yesterday

Registering To Vote Is Now Just A Text Away

A new bot aims to mobilize underrepresented groups this election season through SMS and Facebook Messenger

Africa Yesterday

Virtual Reality Game Gives Lessons About Emergency Birth Care

LIFE is a serious tool that takes advantage of new technology to help save lives

Luxury Yesterday

Shoe Repair Has Moved Onto Your Phone

Cobbler Concierge is an on-demand service to get your footwear fixed online

No search results found.