The $14 billion commercial drone market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 57.5% (CAGR) from 2021 to 2028 as more business use cases emerge that improve operational efficiency, enhance worker safety, and eliminate carbon-emitting transportation needs. For example, Amazon has announced plans to use drones to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes and reduce its strain on the transportation system. In the wake of recently loosened FAA regulations and continued technology advancements, more organizations will be looking to adopt electrically-propelled drones (also known as autonomous aerial vehicles) for goods delivery, mapping, security, data collection, and more.
However, persisting power-related challenges can limit the return on investment that adopting organizations may receive. The matter of effectively charging drones is a significant pain point that impacts flight time, operational costs, and reliability. Fortunately, advancements in wireless power technologies have been proven to overcome these challenges and provide more freedom for drone operators through seamless access to power and connectivity.
Today’s drones commonly use contact-based conductive charging technology, requiring the drone to be perfectly aligned with the charging station. Due to various factors, including terrain and weather conditions, the proper docking of drones isn’t always consistent and requires human interference.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of wireless power for drones.
Reducing Operational Costs
Many organizations adopt drones to save on operational expenses. For example, the traditional method of using a manned helicopter or plane for land surveys is expensive and can take weeks to complete. With a mapping UAV, the turnaround time to collect data can be less than 24 hours at a much lower cost. However, charging issues that delay deployment or lead to aborted drone missions due to low battery levels eat away at the cost savings, the drones promised in the first place.
Because wireless charging does not require extreme precision when docking to complete a charge, the need for human interference is dramatically reduced. Powermat’s solution includes a guided landing feature to help ensure the receiver and transmitter are within charging range. In the event of misalignment, the contact-free charging solution allows the receiver and transmitter to be up to 200mm apart while still supporting up to 600W of charging power. With a fully autonomous drone fleet powered by wireless charging, organizations need not be concerned about deploying additional staff to oversee drones, and workers can keep their focus on more productive tasks.
Increasing Flight Time
When determining a drone’s maximum flight time, there are two key factors to consider – weight and battery life. As such, the addition of weight needs to be taken into account when developing a charging system for drones. Powermat’s solution features a unique design with coil architecture that enables a lightweight solution of 20 grams or less, allowing the drone to move more efficiently with optimal range and flight time.
The drone’s flight time is also directly related to the charge of the drone. If the drone is docked improperly, it will not charge effectively – thus lowering the overall flight time of the drone. Powermat’s drone power optimization software provides visibility into the charging process to ensure each device is fully charged at the correct voltage. This enables operators to get the most out of their drone fleets without long-term detriment to the drone’s battery life and charging capacity.
Durability in Adverse Environmental Conditions
Wireless power solutions for drones, such as Powermat’s solutions, enable drones to be charged in adverse environmental conditions, providing more freedom and flexibility with various use cases. As Powermat’s technology eliminates the need for pogo pins, drones can charge in situations and environments that would otherwise be dangerous and nearly impossible with pin-based charging technology. Wireless charging technology significantly reduces wear and tear from weather conditions and enables safe power delivery in outdoor environments without the risk of electrical shorts due to moisture, mud, or other environmental conditions. The elimination of pin-point accuracy along with the allotted range between the receiver and transmitter means users can charge drones on rugged, uneven terrain if needed.
Wireless Power Maximizes ROI for Drone Deployments
As more industries stand to benefit from drones and UAVs, wireless power technology will be the most critical enabler of complete autonomy and user freedom. With Powermat’s ultra-lightweight design, drones are guaranteed to have more efficient, reliable charging with no trade-off in performance. Drone operators will protect their investment and have peace of mind in continuous operations.
Powermat’s patented Smartinductive hybrid technology designed for drones bridges the gap between inductive charging and resonance – leveraging the best of both worlds. The technology provides drones with seamless access to power and, in turn, improves the reliability and productivity of operations while eliminating the need for pogo pins or manual labor.