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LaserMotive Offers Novel UAV Power Solution
The winner of NASA’s 2009 Power Beaming Challenge competition initially targets the UAV market, but sees many other commercial uses for laser power transfer.
By Laura DiDio

LaserMotive is pioneering the use of laser power beaming systems, a technology that has the potential for use in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other types of applications. The privately held company, based in Kent, Wash., took top honors at NASA’s 2009 Power Beaming Challenge competition and is poised to release its first prototype device.

Until recently, laser power beaming””the wireless transfer of energy from one location to another using laser light””was relegated to the realm of science fiction. But a recent spate of advances in commercial laser technology has made laser power beaming commercially viable from both a technical and cost perspective.

LaserMotive’s forthcoming prototype can power a UAV, and also has the potential to transmit power to emergency field hospitals in disaster areas. With its upcoming release, LaserMotive will be first to market in this rapidly emerging field. According to the company, it will have an operational prototype of an aerial laser for UAVs by year’s end. The initial power beaming offering has an immediate practical application for military purposes. The laser system can beam power to small UAVs and effectively keep them airborne “until the motor runs out,” according to Tom Nugent, LaserMotive president and co-founder.

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