Military Embedded Systems

Stalker UAS powered by lasers extends its flight time by 48 hours


July 16, 2012

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

PALMDALE, CA. Engineers at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and LaserMotive in Kent, WA., joined hands to demonstrate the how a laser can power a Unmanned Aerial System for extended periods of time. During the demonstration a LaserMotive laser powered Stalker Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) to an extended flight time of more than 48 hours ? a 2,400 percent increase in flight duration.

Stalker is a small, silent UAS used by Special Operations Forces since 2006 to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It was modified for the indoor flight test to integrate the LaserMotive proprietary system, which makes it possible to wirelessly transfer energy over long distances via laser light to provide a continual power source to the UAS. When flight test -- held in a wind tunnel – ended, the battery on the Stalker UAS had more energy stored than it did when the test began. The test concluded only because the flight had already surpassed the initial endurance goals that were set by the team.

“A ground-to-air recharging system like this enables us to provide almost unlimited flight endurance to extend and expand the mission profiles for Striker,” Tom Koonce, Stalker program manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.

The next step will invilve demonstrating the laser power outside during an extended Stalker flight, says Tom Nugent, LaserMotive President. LaserMotive is a privately held research and development company that specializes in laser power beaming for commercial applications.


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