Structural Battery Packs to Double Drone Flight Times

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Battery packs designed to be integrated into the wings of the drone, demonstrated a significant boost in battery life, and flight duration

As mankind is trying to make a collective effort at reducing carbon footprint levels, scientists and engineers are trying to ideate sustainable energy sources. Electrically powered automotive and flight tech, is still a relatively new concept, when compared to their gasoline powered counterparts. However, facilities across the globe are frantically trying to perfect the technology, and they have made some commendable advancements as well. Engineers recently figured out that integrating batteries into structural designs, could help increase the efficiency of the designs. After testing such battery packs on fixed wing drones, they found that the results reinforced their thought process.

These structurally compatible battery packs have already been tested on cars and satellites, and some EV’s in the market, are successfully making use of such power sources. A research team at the Case Western Reserve University, aided by the Ohio Federal Research Network, tried to implement this technology into drones. During the study, which began almost three years ago, researchers tried to develop structural energy storage systems for a 7-foot-long, single propeller, fixed wing drone with a fiberglass body, with the ultimate objective of integrating the energy source into the aircraft’s wings.

The idea augured well towards increasing flight efficiency, as it not only provided extra power, without consuming extra space, or adding an ungainly amount of weight. Tests conducted with standard battery packs, gave the drone an uninterrupted flight time of 91 minutes. The new battery pack on the other hand, boosted the airtime to an impressive 171 minutes.

“This test demonstrates that the use of structural battery is a winning concept, this will allow our crafts to fly longer and/or carry heavier payloads without compromising fuselage space.” Says Prof. Vikas Prakash, the lead author of the study.

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About Author

Aira Goldsmith is a graduate of Parsons School of Design. She’s based in NYC but travels much of the year. Aira has written for Buzz Feed, Motherboard, The Financial Post, and the Huffington Post. Aira is a business reporter, focusing on technology and markets.