LaserMotive Technology To Refuel Stalker UAV In Flight

On 11 July 2012, Lockheed Martin issued a press release about a joint test with LaserMotive using laser power to keep their Stalker UAS powered for more than 48 hours.

LaserMotive, headquartered just outside of the Seattle area, has brought to fruition one of man’s greatest ambition over the last 100 years’ which is to deliver power wirelessly. Now, only the unimaginative living on our planet would find this technology uninteresting but imagine powering a satellite from earth using a laser beam . Better yet, imagine solar collectors in space transmitting power to terrestrial ground stations. That’s the potential that LaserMotive’s technology offers.

The wireless power system starts with a laser running on power supplied from a standard industrial electrical outlet or a generator.  The laser light is shaped by a set of optics to define the beam size at its destination.  This light then propagates through air, the vacuum of space, or through fiber optic cable until it reaches the PV receiver.  This array of PV cells then converts the light back into electricity.

This video tells their story. Watch it then see what you think…

Lockheed Martin’s press release in its entirety:

PALMDALE, Calif., July 9, 2012 — Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] and LaserMotive, Inc., recently demonstrated the capabilities of an innovative laser power system to extend the Stalker Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) flight time to more than 48 hours. This increase in flight duration represents an improvement of 2,400 percent.

Stalker is a small, silent UAS used by Special Operations Forces since 2006 to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

“We’re pleased with the results of this test. Laser power holds real promise in extending the capabilities of Stalker,” said Tom Koonce, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® Stalker program manager. “A ground-to-air recharging system like this allows us to provide practically unlimited flight endurance to extend and expand the mission profiles that the Stalker vehicle can fulfill.”

The Stalker UAS was modified for the indoor flight test to incorporate LaserMotive’s proprietary system that makes it possible to wirelessly transfer energy over long distances using laser light to create a continual source of power to the UAS. At the conclusion of the flight test, held in a wind tunnel, the battery on the Stalker UAS had more energy stored than it did at the beginning of the test. The test was concluded only because the flight had already surpassed the initial endurance goals set by the team.

“This test is one of the final steps in bringing laser-powered flight to the field,” said Tom Nugent, president of LaserMotive. “By enabling in-flight recharging, this system will ultimately extend capabilities, improve endurance and enable new missions for electric aircraft. The next step in proving the reality of this technology is to demonstrate it outdoors in an extended flight of the Stalker.”

Headquartered in Kent, Wash., LaserMotive is a privately-held research and development company specializing in laser power beaming for commercial applications.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 123,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

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Media Contact:

Melissa Dalton, 661-572-1130; email; melissa.dalton@lmco.com
For additional information about Lockheed Martin, visit: http://www.lockheedmartin.com/
For additional information about LaserMotive, visit: http://www.lasermotive.com

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