Autonomous Overhead Powerline Recharging for Uninterrupted Drone Operations

Imagine using a drone for building or powerline inspection, and having to return to base to charge everything in 25-30 minutes. As inefficient as it may be, it is how things are for now, well, unless hydrogen-powered drones become viable, or the technology we see here, known as the Autonomous Overhead Powerline Recharging for Uninterrupted Drone Operations, becomes a reality.

Autonomous Overhead Powerline Recharging for Uninterrupted Drone Operations

The Autonomous Overhead Powerline Recharging for Uninterrupted Drone Operations is a research project by the University of Southern Denmark aimed to keep the drone in the air for as long as possible, or ideally indefinitely.

As the name suggests, the drone equipped with this system will be able to seek out overhead powerlines, ‘docks’ itself to a line, and proceed to draw electricity to charge itself. While it did not eliminate the range anxiety, it does negate the need to return to base to recharge which could be quite far out. The precious flight time used to return to base could be used for purposeful work.

The Autonomous Overhead Powerline Recharging for Uninterrupted Drone Operations is a fully autonomous self-recharging drone system that is designed for long sustained operation near powerlines. It is not necessary for a power inspection drone; it can be for any commercial drone that requires a long flight duration and operates where power lines are near.

Autonomous Overhead Powerline Recharging for Uninterrupted Drone Operations

Utilizing a Tarot 650 Sport drone frame, the drone features a 7,000-mAh battery and a setup that includes a Raspberry Pi 4 B, Pixhawk V6X autopilot, and sensors for navigation and line detection. Its innovative power line gripper attaches to lines for inductive recharging. Field tests at Denmark’s HCA Airport showed the drone could recharge itself five times over a two-hour flight while performing inspections. Keep going to see the self-recharging drone in action.

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Images: University of Southern Denmark.