WiBotic, a Seattle, Wash.-based startup that finished third in the Pitchfire startup competition at RoboBusiness 2017, has introduced a wireless charging pad for drones.
WiBotic’s PowerPad is an all-in-one transmitter circuit, transmitter antenna and power supply that wirelessly charges everything from large industrial drones to smaller commercial drones. WiBotic said PowerPad will work with additional standard-sized drones in the future.
The 3-foot x 3-foot PowerPad costs anywhere from a couple of thousand to several thousand dollars, depending on how weatherproof its needs to be. WiBotic said the PowerPad can wirelessly charge a typical commercial drone battery – as an example a 5000mAh LiPo battery – in the same amount of time as plug-in charger (1.5-2 hours).
The plug-and-play system sends power wirelessly at short range from the pad’s transmitter to the charger’s receiver. Then the transmission is converted into electricity for a drone’s batteries.
The PowerPad, according to WiBotic, can be mounted on everything from rooftops and other elevated structures to inside warehouses and factories. To charge themselves, the drones simply land on the wireless charging pad and get charged with no human intervention.
One PowerPad can support multiple drones or one drone can land on multiple PowerPads to extend its flight range. “Battery charging is one of the biggest challenges facing the robotics industry and reliable wireless power has opened a world of fabulous possibilities,” said Ben Waters, CEO of WiBotic.
As you can imagine, wireless power for drones is useful in numerous industries, including:
- Security where drones on rooftops must be at-the-ready
- Oil and gas where drones can be used to monitor and detect gas leaks
- Warehouses where drones can be used to efficiently manage inventory
WiBotic also announced a new lightweight and compact version of its onboard charger, which works in conjunction with the PowerPad, for drones and small robots. The 1.6-oz, mini circuit board will help operators of smaller drones and robots can take advantage of wireless power without being bogged down by excess weight.
In April, WiBotic closed a $2.5 million funding round that brought total investment to $3.25 million.
WiBotic said the new onboard charger is about half the size of a previous generation onboard charger pictured above. (Credit: WiBotic)