Drones Are Using Power Lines to Charge Up, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The self-charging drone drawing power from a line. | University of Southern Denmark

An autonomous drone that uses power lines to self-recharge has been trialed but the potential pitfalls are catastrophic.

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark wanted to solve the problem of drone flights being limited by battery life so built a prototype that could grip onto power lines.

They employed a commercial Tarot 650 Sport carbon fiber drone and customized it with an electric quadcopter propulsion system, an autopilot module, a 7,000-mAh lithium-polymer battery, and a Raspberry Pi 4 B microcomputer.

The drone can self-detect its battery running low and make a beeline to a power line by using its camera and millimeter-wave radar system to detect where the closest one is.

The drone approaches the power line from beneath and uses a pair of arms to grip the cable. Engadget reports that an inductive charger pulls power from the line and once the battery is full, the gripper releases and the drone continues its flight.

The team in Denmark designed the system for drones that carry out inspections on power lines; a common utilization for drones, particularly in remote areas such as mountain tops.

This method could allow for a drone to stay skyward indefinitely and has potential uses for all types of drones, not just ones that inspect power lines.

But, Isn’t This Potentially Dangerous?

The University’s test was successful, keeping the drone in the air for two and a half hours and charging its battery five times. But as everyone knows, playing with power lines is extremely dangerous and if something went wrong — say the drone damages a power line — then thousands of people could be without electricity.

The Danish offering is not the only autonomous drone designed to self-recharge, a Canadian utility authority made a Lineranger robot that crawls on top of the lines rather than flying onto them.

Engadget notes there are charging pads for drones which are undoubtedly a safer option but will require money and space to build them.

The University of Southern Denmark published its study here.

Image credits: University of Southern Denmark

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button