It might not be the greatest idea to use drones that charge on power lines.

A quadcopter was able to inspect and charge from power lines for five cycles over two hours.

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Battery life has been a significant limiter in the use of drones for a long time. It would be beneficial for a variety of reasons to be able to keep drones in the air for longer periods, even though there are commercial models that can remain in the air for less than half an hour or even longer on a single charge. To address this problem, researchers at the University of Southern Denmark have been working on it for several years by designing drones that are capable of recharging themselves straight from power lines.

This time around, the researchers affixed a gripper system to a Tarot 650 Sport drone. They also modified the drone by adding an electric quadcopter propulsion system, an autopilot module, and several other components. According to New Atlas, when the drone’s systems determine that the battery is running low, the gadget puts its camera and millimeter-wave radar technology to use to locate the power line that is nearest to it.

Following this, the drone will fly up to the power line from below, and it will use a pair of arms that slope inward to direct the wire into the gripper throughout this process. Electrical current is drawn from the power line using an inductive charger. As soon as the battery is completely charged, the gripper will open, and the drone will proceed with its journey.

At the outset, the plan is for this charging mechanism to be utilized by drones that are responsible for inspecting electrical lines. In the year 2022, the researchers presented for the first time a drone that is capable of self-charging a battery by drawing electricity from power lines. At this time, they made improvements to the gripper system and exhibited a real-world use of the technology’s capabilities.

In a paper that they will be presenting at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, which will take place the following month, the team has described the project as “to the best of our ability, a first-in-the-world plan with the ability to support operation throughout many inspection/charging cycles powered by energy harvesting from power cables in a real outdoor setting.” The drone was able to maintain its altitude for more than two hours while running through five cycles of power line inspection and charging, which is considered to be the most successful test.

To monitor and check electrical lines, drones have been utilized for several years. They are especially helpful in distant regions, such as the summits of mountains, where manually inspecting electricity lines may be a challenging task. Nevertheless, it is difficult to avoid feeling a bit concerned about the possibility of drones snagging into electricity wires. The possibility exists that a whole region may be without electricity if anything goes wrong and a drone causes damage to a power line. It is possible to find charging stations for drones, which might be a more secure alternative; nevertheless, they would require additional room for infrastructure.

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