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More thoughts on Drones / Flying Cars

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Yesterday I posted about an NPR article about flying cars, and my opinion that the best way to make these a reality is to have them become laser powered.  It is interesting that this week’s Economist also has an article about flying cars.  If you thought this idea was far fetched, NASA has done some experiments of a proof of concept.  But getting power to a drone/flying car alone is not enough, because there is still a need to have enough energy stored in the drone/flying car to stay aloft for s sufficient period of time if the incoming power stops working.

So, we also need a breakthrough in power storage, where more energy can be stored with less weight in a given space.  Battery technology is not the long term answer.  They weigh too much,  charge too slowly, and have too short of an effective lifespan.  This is why nanotube supercapacitors are what will be needed to have ubiquitous flying transportation become a reality.

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Written by Jacob Walker

April 28th, 2017 at 11:59 am

2 Responses to 'More thoughts on Drones / Flying Cars'

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  1. Quote from the Nasa Article you linked to:

    “During the flight demonstration in September 2003, an engineer manually directed the 1 kw laser’s energy from a central platform at a panel of infrared-sensitive photovoltaic cells mounted on the bottom of the aircraft to power its tiny six-watt motor as it flew circles inside the building.”

    Err, uh, it says it takes 1000 watts of laser power to power the Six Watt drone motor. That is an energy efficiency of 6/1000 or approxinmately 1/2 of 1%. In other words, it would waste over 99% of the energy needed to power the thing.

    Very serious problem.

    Won't Work

    2 May 17 at 3:31 pm

  2. There must be a way to get the efficiency to be a lot better….. But you are completely right that this is currently not a ratio that can seriously be capable of power transmission. But current photovoltaic cells are not the answer… I suspect that ultimately it will be some form of optical antenna.. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_rectenna) But on the other hand, I am not an expert in any of these areas, so I could be completely wrong. And if we got good optical antennas, then solar power might be more practical than laser power… (although only in the daytime)

    Jacob Walker

    2 May 17 at 8:48 pm

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