Protip: $900,000 goes a long way, particularly when you're dumping practically all of it into a single investment (Hello Kitty lap warmers notwithstanding). LaserMotive, the company lauded for bringing home nearly a million bucks in the 2009 NASA-sponsored Space Elevator Games, has just broken an endurance record for laser-powered hovering with its unnamed Pelican. This here quadrocopter is designed to get energized by converting beams into power via a set of photovoltaic panels on its underside, and in a recent test, lasers were able to keep it afloat for over 12 hours. It never hovered much higher than 30 feet, and it barely moved from left to right while in the air, but we're guessing it was marginally more interesting than watching paint dry. All jesting aside, the milestone makes it a lot more feasible for the company to get this technology into UAVs used in the military -- "for example, laser-powered copters could perform on-the-road reconnaissance missions when convoys travel through a combat zone." And if you're looking to take home something similar on a far smaller scale, there's always the AR.Drone.
LaserMotive to Demonstrate Laser-Powered Helicopter at Future of Flight Aviation Center; Will Mark Longest Duration Untethered Laser Powered Helicopter Flight on Record
KENT, WA--(Marketwire - October 20, 2010) - LaserMotive, an independent R&D company specializing in laser power beaming and winner of the 2009 NASA-sponsored Power Beaming Competition, today announced it will attempt to break its own world record for laser-powered helicopter flight at the Future of Flight Aviation Center located at 8415 Paine Field Blvd. in Mukilteo, Wash., starting Wednesday, October 27.
The flight, which will consist of an unmanned "quadrocopter" free-flying inside of the Future of Flight Aviation Center, will commence in the early evening on Wednesday, October 27 and will end on Thursday morning by 8:00 AM. The quadrocopter will be powered solely with laser power beaming -- the wireless transfer of energy over distances using laser light -- to create an endless source of power to the aircraft. Previously, LaserMotive set the world record for the longest-duration laser-powered helicopter flight when it flew a tethered remote-controlled helicopter up to six hours at a time for four days at the AUVSI Conference in Denver, Colo.
"The demonstration will mark our first public display of a free-flying unmanned aerial vehicle powered by lasers, and represents an important step forward in the future development of flight," Tom Nugent, President and Co-founder of LaserMotive. "As such, we feel that the Future of Flight is the perfect place to hold this groundbreaking demo."
"We are very pleased to host this record breaking event, which could genuinely impact the future of flight," said Barry Smith, Executive Director of the Future of Flight Foundation. "For us, the innovation behind the technology is what makes this project so meaningful and we applaud LaserMotive's achievements as the leader in the field of beamed power."
The LaserMotive laser power beaming system is based on technology the company developed for its winning entry in the 2009 Power Beaming Challenge for a purse prize of nearly $1 million, marking the first time any team ever won the Challenge. The demonstration is part of the company's long-term strategy to develop a full-scale laser power system for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) -- currently one of the largest growth sectors in the aerospace and defense industries with an expected growth rate worldwide to $11.5 billion annually by 2020.
Headquartered in Kent, Wash., LaserMotive is a privately-held R&D company specializing in laser power beaming for commercial applications. The company was co-founded in 2006 by Dr. Jordin Kare, one of the foremost experts on laser propulsion, and Tom Nugent, former Research Director for LiftPort Group. Its industry partners include some of the leading companies in aerospace and lasers, including The Boeing Company, DILAS, MS Kennedy, Ophir Spiricon, Zaber Technologies, and In-Tec. For more information, including a white paper on LaserMotive's UAV strategy, please visit the company website at www.lasermotive.com.