August 31, 2016      

Batteries are what give robots life. And WiBotic, a University of Washington spin-out that’s been in stealth mode for two years, is finally revealing more details of its wireless charging system that autonomously charges aerial, mobile and aquatic robots.

Here’s how it works. When a robot or drone approaches the WiBotic wireless charging platform, it automatically detects its presence and wirelessly charges the battery. WiBotic claims it works “just as fast, if not faster, than a standard plug-in charger.”

WiBotic says its charging system is also more efficient than traditional charging methods as it eliminates human intervention for daily maintenance, charging or battery management. Alerts are triggered if the power systems are compromised in any way. WiBotic says this approach will even prolong the life of the battery itself.

“WiBotic is creating the infrastructure for robots to charge whenever and wherever – so companies can focus on robot tasks rather than keeping their robots charged,” said Ben Waters, CEO and co-founder of WiBotic. “Enabling better access to power and autonomous charging opens up a whole new world of possibilities for robots.”

WiBotic says its wireless charging system can be customized for any robot. The system also has fleet-level power management software that keeps an eye on how an entire fleet of robots operate, using the data to create a plan to optimize the batteries for the entire fleet. The range for the system, WiBotic says, is dependent on the size of the coils. The diameter of the receive coil determines the horizontal range, while the diameter of the transmit coil dictates the vertical range.

WiBotic Wireless Charging for Robots
WiBotic’s wireless charging system consists of a transmitter and receiver. (Credit: WiBotic)

The company says it’s already working with companies in agriculture, security/surveillance, delivery, professional videography/cinematography, factory automation, rugged industrial vehicles, medical, oil and gas, marine biology, transportation/port monitoring and autonomous underwater vehicles.

This video below has more details about WiBotic’s wireless charging system.

Keeping batteries charged is a major challenge facing all commercial drone applications. WiBotic has a nice infographic detailing how its system works with drones for longer flight times, greater flight range and hassle-free charging.

WiBotic Drone Charging
Credit: WiBotic

SolidEnergy Systems, an MIT spinoff, is looking to double the flight time of drones with its new anode-free, rechargable lithium metal battery. The battery essentially replaces graphite, a common battery anode material, with a thin, high-energy lithium-metal foil that holds more ions to provide more energy. SolidEnergy Systems said some drones will start using this battery in November 2016.