DARPA wants to refuel drones in flight – wirelessly

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US subject researchers are trying to move in-flight refueling tankers into laser-shooting "airborne power wells" for charging drones, and they want nan public's thief to fig retired how.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) published a petition for accusation (RFI) from anyone consenting and capable to lend their tech, pinch a fewer caveats. It needs to fresh connected existing in-flight refueling tankers (the newer KC-46 and Cold War-era KC-135, specifically) and beryllium capable to present 100kW of power.

Militaries astir nan world person been utilizing in-flight refueling for decades to widen craft patrols and long-range missions. With a history of improvement stretching backmost to nan 1920s, nan believe has since developed into a modular portion of operating an aerial fleet powered by aviation fuel.

Where accepted air-to-air refueling requires booms, hoses, and different equipment, DARPA sees immoderate imaginable laser power-beaming instrumentality arsenic thing small, for illustration an underwing pod. The RFI reveals nan DoD has already been exploring wireless power transportation tech for its "unmanned aerial systems," and that wireless entity charging could lead to drones that are lighter acknowledgment to not needing arsenic overmuch onboard artillery capacity.

DARPA sees its airborne power good arsenic a constituent of a overmuch larger web of powerfulness generating, transfer, and receiving technologies that would alteration "the DoD to dynamically allocate power resources to much flexibly present subject effects."

With plans seemingly built astir a portion of exertion that has not yet been invented, DARPA isn't wasting clip collecting conception sketches: it has a strict database of 3 things it's looking for.

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First, DARPA only wants tech that tin place existing aliases required instrumentality needed for nan retrofit, and it wants information connected nan limits of really overmuch powerfulness it could generate. It besides wants systems already capable to make nan "100kW aliases greater continuous activity laser arsenic good arsenic nan thermal control" that would beryllium basal for operating successful nan air.

Second, DARPA wants tech pinch a circumstantial laser solution capable to present 100kW aliases more, and it wants instrumentality that tin "provide beamforming and steering of nan laser power to distant locations and covering a astir hemispherical section of regard."

Those 2 harvester for DARPA's 3rd requirement, that each nan bits needed to build its airborne powerfulness zapper beryllium astatine slightest astatine a tech readiness level of 6 aliases higher, meaning nan components person been demonstrated successfully successful a applicable environment.

Not only does it want ideas arsenic adjacent to deployable arsenic possible, DARPA besides isn't giving willing experimenters overmuch clip to present what it's asking for: submissions are owed little than a period from now connected July 11. ®