Drones that save power by hanging like bats and perching like birds

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/04/30/drones-that-save-power-by-hang.html


Great, now robots are even taking over birds’ jobs. /s


Add in some ability to steal power from the EM field around power lines and the flights can get a lot longer.


Or on phone lines in case they need to phone home.




The only problem I see with that is that to harvest power leakage of high voltage lines via induction would require a relatively long cable to obtain even a very small amount of power. I suppose the drones could carry spooled wires to lower, but it would take a long time to charge the capacity of batteries sufficient for this type of powered flight which, although very convenient and maneuverable for small craft, it extremely power hungry compared to other methods of flight. Basically, a drone would spend a good amount of time just leeching enough power to reel in the spool, let along spinning its rotors for flight.

A better design might be a drone with insulated claws to grab onto an electrified fence without shorting out and then physically touching the fence with an exposed conductor. Here you almost have the opposite problem. An electrified fence is running a lot higher current than mains power so, although you wouldn’t need as heavy a transformer as used on high power lines, it would have to be heavier than the wall wart or converter brick you might want to put into your drone.

The best option would be a purpose built roost delivering the correct DC voltage, perhaps built on top of electric vehicle charging stations.


This would be the best option but the scope on use-case would need to be very specific. Some place like Disney, Bellagio, construction sites, etc where you’d want drones and need them charged up and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Not something i’d want available for regular joe though

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I could see it working out in a society that had rational drone regulation, but alas, we’re a long ways from that and of course we must design infrastructure for the human civilization we have, not the human civilization we want.

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If this was at a park or something i think it’d be faster to just swap out batteries on the drone. If it was a place that did drone rentals maybe, it’s not a bad concept but again i think swapping batteries would just be faster unless we got to the point of super quick battery charging was a thing.

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This Israeli company tried to do that with electric cars. It was a nice idea, but they lacked the capital and market influence to implement the in fracture at the scale needed to make it viable.

Car batteries are relatively large and heavy. But if I was going to try to implement that idea for something like drones or other human-portable electronics (which I wouldn’t, because I hate doing shit like that), I’d do something like a charging station for betteries that are checked out Airbnb style. Slot the depleted battery into the station and pull out a charged one.

But can they be programmed to shit on my car?


Thankfully its much easier with drones to swap batteries :slight_smile: still struggling with why anyone would rent drones… drone racing?

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Drone dog-fights could be fun.

Also, another problem with the swappable batteries is that most electronics make removing the rechargeable battery minor surgery (doable, but the opposite of convenient). That’s another reason I don’t see manufactures adapting to battery swap stations and instead insisting on charging stations. Because fuck the end user is the unofficial mantra of modern tech industry.


I don’t own a drone but I think those are built for quick battery swaps since their current run times are lousy. And I’m all in on drone dog fighting, maybe even have some slower moving drones to make it less hectic and more tactical

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Electric scooters do this in Taiwan. You drive up to a kiosk, swipe your phone, and a couple of large but physically manageable batteries pop out. You swap them for the ones on your scooter and you’re good to go.


Hey drone, if ya got time to hang ya got time to buzz around and annoy people and make them feel uncomfortable about some weirdo in the park filming them with a drone.

I’m imagining a mashup of The Birds and Terminator Salvation…it doesn’t end well for humans. :frowning:


I could see renting one to get some aerial photos or video of an area.


As you’re probably aware, there’s been serious research into this topic for several years

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