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Laser-powered glider tested in Japan

Marc Perton

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Forget about using lasers just for guidance. Developers at Japan's Kinki University have demonstrated the ability to use lasers as a source of power for a small airplane. The 30-inch glider, which had a 20-minute test flight around the Osaka Dome, used a battery to assist with take-off, and then switched to laser power, with a ground-based laser firing at the glider's photoelectric cells to keep it aloft. The developers envision using laser-powered gliders for automated applications, such as surveying areas hit by natural disasters. We just want them to come out with a version for us to fly in our backyard.

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