Archive for the ‘News’ Category

New Product: Laser Power over Fiber for Tethered VTOL

Written by on Monday, April 29th, 2013

LaserMotive issued a press release Monday about our laser power over fiber system for tethered VTOL, primarily quadrocopters.

LaserMotive Unveils World’s First Aircraft System Powered by Laser Over Fiber

First Public Flight Powered by New System to Be Held at SPIE Defense, Security & Sensing

BALTIMORE, MD–(Marketwired – Apr 29, 2013) – LaserMotive, an independent company specializing in delivering electric power via lasers, today unveiled InvisiTower, the world’s first tethered vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft system powered by laser over optical fiber. The new, portable system can power any multi-rotor helicopter indefinitely using laser power sent via fiber optic cable, enabling aircraft to stay in the air as long as power is available on the ground. The first public flight of an aircraft powered by the new system will take place this week at the SPIE Defense, Security & Sensing (DS&S) tradeshow at the Baltimore Convention Center in technical demonstration booth T2 and booth #1970.

InvisiTower enables any helicopter to stay in the air as long as power is available on the ground. The system is compact and portable (small enough to fit in the back of an SUV) and does not require a pilot to fly — just someone to monitor the video coming from it.

At DS&S, LaserMotive will be demonstrating InvisiTower powering a small quadrocopter, which will fly each day of the tradeshow.

“The beauty of the InvisiTower system is that it allows unlimited flight even in small systems because fiber optics are much lighter than copper wires,” said Tom Nugent, president and CEO of LaserMotive. “In addition, it is safer because the fiber cable is nonconductive — it won’t conduct lightning or short out power lines — and no high voltages are needed. The laser energy is completely contained, and interlocked in case the cable is damaged, so there are no laser safety issues.”

InvisiTower can be used for a variety of applications in both the military and civilian markets including: ISR and situational awareness, communications relay, news & sports reporters, first responders, and industrial facility security.

InvisiTower is based on LaserMotive’s Power over Fiber system announced earlier this year, which takes LaserMotive’s free-space laser power beaming systems that have set multiple records delivering power to mobile robots and UAVs and sends the laser light over optical fiber. Power over Fiber can deliver power over long distances safely and without interference in the presence of high voltages, RF fields and electromagnetic pulses, or strong magnetic fields.

Headquartered in Kent, Wash., LaserMotive is a privately-held R&D company specializing in laser power beaming for commercial applications. The company was co-founded in 2006 by Dr. Jordin Kare, one of the foremost experts on laser propulsion, and Tom Nugent, former Research Director for LiftPort Group. Its industry partners include some of the leading companies in aerospace and lasers, including Lockheed Martin, The Boeing Company (Spectrolab), DILAS, and OFS. For more information, including a video demonstrating the PoF system, please visit the company website at http://lasermotive.com/products/power-over-fiber/.

Tethered VTOL Demo at SPIE DS&S 2013

Written by on Saturday, April 13th, 2013

LaserMotive is going to have a special demonstration at this year’s SPIE Defense, Security & Sensing trade show in Baltimore. The next version of our laser power over fiber product line, capable of producing 70 watts, will be used to fly a VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) quadrocopter. The tethered VTOL system will be flying inside the Baltimore convention center throughout the trade show. We will have more to say about the system in the next few weeks.

You can read more at this SF Gate story: SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing exhibition, technical events will connect researchers and suppliers in Baltimore

Outdoor Proof-of-Concept Laser-Powered UAS Flights

Written by on Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

We are excited to announce that Lockheed Martin issued a press release today about a set of outdoor proof-of-concept flights with LaserMotive’s wireless power system and their Stalker UAS. This outdoor test was the next phase in a planned set of tests, following on the recent successful 48-hour wind tunnel test. Here’s the text of the release:

PALMDALE, Calif., August 7, 2012 — Lockheed Martin (LMT) and LaserMotive, Inc., have completed a series of flight tests of the Stalker Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) to further validate the performance of an innovative laser power system. These tests mark the first-ever outdoor flight of a UAS powered by laser.

Stalker is a small, silent UAS used by Special Operations Forces since 2006 to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. In a recent wind tunnel test, the UAS demonstrated 48 hours of continuous flight powered by this innovative laser system.

“This series of proof-of-concept tests took place in a remote desert location where environmental factors like wind and heat were constants. Not only did we demonstrate that the laser powered Stalker could perform well in this type of environment, we flew during both day and night without incident,” said Tom Koonce, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® Stalker program manager. “Ultimately we hope to provide our customers with remarkably long endurance to extend and expand the mission profiles possible for a small UAS like Stalker.”

For the demonstration, the Stalker was fitted with a lightweight photovoltaic receiver and on-board power management hardware. The ground-based laser transmitter was based on LaserMotive’s hardware developed for its winning entry in the 2009 NASA Centennial Challenge. Accomplishments of these proof-of-concept flights include:
• Demonstrated net positive power to Stalker in flight, at ranges up to 600 meters.
• Proved that the laser did not damage the Stalker and that the addition of the laser receiver did not impact its normal flight operations or aerodynamics.
• Operated multiple test flights in a range of desert conditions (day & night, high temperatures, and strong winds), demonstrating the ruggedness of the Stalker-mounted laser receiver power system.
• The beam director tracked the receiver for long periods, with centimeter accuracy at 500 meters, despite turbulence and aircraft maneuvers.
• Met all operational and safety requirements, including coordination with the Laser Clearinghouse and flight operations.

“We’re excited to work with Lockheed Martin to validate the ability of lasers to power Stalker in the field,” said Tom Nugent, president of LaserMotive. “Wireless power via laser is an important emerging technology, and I look forward to continuing to work together to further prove this technology in future experiments.”

Headquartered in Kent, Wash., LaserMotive is a privately held research and development company specializing in wireless power via laser for commercial applications.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 120,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation’s net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

Both companies are exhibiting at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems trade show and conference this week. The flight hardware will be on display in LaserMotive’s booth (number 4749).

Successful 48+ Hour Laser-Powered UAS Demonstration

Written by on Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

We are proud to announce that Lockheed Martin issued a press release today about a joint test with LaserMotive using laser power to keep their Stalker UAS powered for more than 48 hours. We’ll post more details soon! Here’s the text of the release:

PALMDALE, Calif., July 9, 2012 — Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] and LaserMotive, Inc., recently demonstrated the capabilities of an innovative laser power system to extend the Stalker Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) flight time to more than 48 hours. This increase in flight duration represents an improvement of 2,400 percent.

Stalker is a small, silent UAS used by Special Operations Forces since 2006 to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

“We’re pleased with the results of this test. Laser power holds real promise in extending the capabilities of Stalker,” said Tom Koonce, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® Stalker program manager. “A ground-to-air recharging system like this allows us to provide practically unlimited flight endurance to extend and expand the mission profiles that the Stalker vehicle can fulfill.”

The Stalker UAS was modified for the indoor flight test to incorporate LaserMotive’s proprietary system that makes it possible to wirelessly transfer energy over long distances using laser light to create a continual source of power to the UAS. At the conclusion of the flight test, held in a wind tunnel, the battery on the Stalker UAS had more energy stored than it did at the beginning of the test. The test was concluded only because the flight had already surpassed the initial endurance goals set by the team.

“This test is one of the final steps in bringing laser-powered flight to the field,” said Tom Nugent, president of LaserMotive. “By enabling in-flight recharging, this system will ultimately extend capabilities, improve endurance and enable new missions for electric aircraft. The next step in proving the reality of this technology is to demonstrate it outdoors in an extended flight of the Stalker.”

Headquartered in Kent, Wash., LaserMotive is a privately-held research and development company specializing in laser power beaming for commercial applications.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 123,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

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Media Contact:

Melissa Dalton, 661-572-1130; email; melissa.dalton@lmco.com
For additional information about Lockheed Martin, visit: http://www.lockheedmartin.com/
For additional information about LaserMotive, visit: http://www.lasermotive.com

Media inquiries for LaserMotive, please contact Belinda Young at 206-932-3145.

FAQ: Does the amount of delivered power vary with the distance between the transmitter and receiver?

Written by on Thursday, April 19th, 2012

The efficiency of wireless power delivery via laser does vary with distance, though the impact is much more pronounced near the ground than when delivering power toward the sky or space.

While not directly related to distance, the primary factor affecting efficiency is whether the receiver collects all of the transmitted light, or if some of the light “leaks” past the receiver. This is determined by the design of the transmitting optics and the size of the receiver. There may be reasons other than efficiency that also drive the size of the transmitter and receiver.

Assuming that the receiver is large enough to capture any light that makes it that far, the remaining factor is absorption and scattering by the atmosphere. Power transferred from point to point near the ground can suffer significant energy losses due to turbulence and dust. We can reduce that effect by elevating the transmitter and receiver so that the beam remains a reasonable distance, perhaps 100 feet, above ground level.

Power beamed near vertical suffers comparatively little energy loss because it quickly gets away from the ground effects. Scattering will depend on atmospheric conditions (e.g., dust, clouds). Absorption in the wavelengths we use is small. We can design for any range from millimeters to many kilometers, and we are working on system designs to beam power from the Earth’s surface to satellites and the lunar surface — it is possible to transmit power at reasonable efficiency over hundreds, or even thousands, of kilometers under the right conditions.

Vote for LaserMotive as Innovation of the Year!

Written by on Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Geekwire has announced that LaserMotive is one of the five finalists in the 2012 Seattle 2.0 Awards Innovation of the Year category! We face some cool competitors, but nothing that will truly revolutionize such an important function in our world like the delivery and use of power.

The winner will be chosen by popular vote. Show your support for LaserMotive by voting no later than April 23. In fact, why not vote right now, here.

The awards show and announcement of the winners takes place May 3 at the Experience Music Project.

Wish us luck, and, better yet, tell all your friends and colleagues to vote for LaserMotive!

Introducing LaserMotive’s FAQ Series – How does wireless power via laser work?

Written by on Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

As we mentioned earlier this year, LaserMotive is listening to you, our friends, followers, and the general public and is answering some of the most frequently asked questions about laser power beaming, or, as we also call it, wireless power via lasers. We’re proud to post our answer to our first question: How does wireless power via lasers work?

We sometimes describe our wireless power solution as an “invisible extension cord” because, just like a real extension cord, it supplies power at a distance from your electrical outlet.

In our case, the process works much like solar power, where the sun shines on a photovoltaic receiver (solar cell) that converts the sunlight to electricity. We take electricity from a source such as a wall plug or generator and convert it into light (via laser). That light is transmitted over a long distance to a photovoltaic receiver that converts the light back into electricity, where it can be used to run a motor, charge a battery, or anything else you’d want to run on electricity!

The significant differences between our wireless power solution and solar power are that laser light is much more intense than sunlight, you can deliver the power anywhere that is in line of sight, and power can be delivered 24 hours per day.

Continued Science Fair Success Studying Wireless Power!

Written by on Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

More congratulations are in order for Avery Rich, the ninth-grade student at Cedarcrest High School in Duvall, WA, about whom we wrote recently. She has continued to have great success with her science fair project comparing wireless power deliver between a laser beam and a broader spectrum white light beam.

After winning the regional fair, Avery entered her project, “Beaming Power: Can Lasers Be Used To Transfer Energy Efficiently?” , in the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair.  Avery switched categories to Energy and Transportation and won a blue ribbon. She was also awarded a Wolfram Mathematica special award and chosen for a $20,000, four-year renewable scholarship to Ohio Wesleyan University.

Avery is going to visit our shop soon to see the work we are doing on developing the type of wireless power delivery she studied for her project.

Congratulations Avery, and we’ll look forward to seeing your success in future science fairs!

Student Science Fair Project Studying Power Beaming

Written by on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

LaserMotive congratulates Avery Rich, a ninth-grader at Cedarcrest High School in Duvall, WA, for her prize winning Science Fair project, entitled “Beaming Power: Can Lasers Be Used To Transfer Energy Efficiently?”

Avery approached us in October about mentoring her in her research project, and we are delighted to see the thought, research acumen, and experimental skills she devoted to her study. You can see Avery’s project this Saturday from 1:00-3:00 when she competes in the Central Sound Regional Science & Engineering Fair at the Bellevue College Gymnasium, on March 10, 2012. http://depts.bellevuecollege.edu/sciencefair/

We recently had a chance to talk to Avery about her project.

Q: How did you get interested in power beaming as a science fair project?

A: My dad is an electrical engineer, and he has inspired my interest in building things. I am the only girl in my school interested in engineering, and my goal is to be an aerospace engineer. My specific area of interest is alternative propulsion technologies.

For my project, I initially wanted to study/measure the speed of light, but I realized it was too fast for the resources I had available. As I researched light, I learned about the wave/particle duality, and that piqued my interested in light. Then I read about solar power and thought about the conversion of light to energy. I follow NASA, and I read about the space elevator games, heard of LaserMotive, and I started reading about laser power beaming.

Q: What was your research question?

A: Are lasers more efficient at transferring energy over distance than other light sources?

Q: What was your hypothesis?

A: If the distance between a light source and a photovoltaic cell affects power efficiency, then a laser will have a more consistent efficiency over distance than a non-collimated light source, such as a flashlight, because a laser is more collimated.

Q: What was your research methodology?

A: I attached a flashlight to a metal track, aimed it at a solar panel, and measured the input and output voltage and current at various distances. I then did the same with a 330 mW 808 nm laser. I graphed the average efficiency over distance of both onto the same logarithmic scale graph and compared the two data trends.

Q: What was the result?

A: The flashlight graph showed a clear exponential pattern, while the laser graph exhibited a much more linear pattern.  The shape of the flashlight graph tells us that as the PV cell moves away from the flashlight, efficiency drops drastically and is reduced to little or no measurable power at all.  This confirms the expected cons of a non-collimated light source.  The linear pattern of the laser graph shows us that efficiency is more consistent over distance.  As distance increases, there is little to no change in efficiency when using the laser.  This explains how lasers can be beneficial in powering an object over great distances, because distance itself is not a primary factor in efficiency.

Q: What was your conclusion?

A: It was predicted that if the distance between a light source and a photovoltaic cell affects power efficiency, then a laser will have a more consistent efficiency over distance than a non-collimated light source, such as a flashlight, because a laser is more collimated.  This hypothesis was proven correct by the conducted experiment.  Thus, lasers can transfer energy much more consistently over distance than a non-collimated light source.

Q: What is next?

A: I will be presenting my project at the Central Sound Regional Science & Engineering Fair at the Bellevue College Gymnasium on March 10, 2012. http://depts.bellevuecollege.edu/sciencefair/. After that, I will continue pursuing my goal of being an aerospace engineer (and softball)!

Tweet-up with @LaserMotive Friday at 10am PST, 1pm EST

Written by on Thursday, March 1st, 2012

The title pretty much says it all. As part of our fifth anniversary, we’ll be having our first tweet-up Friday, March 2nd, starting at 10am PST / 1pm EST. Send any questions or hellos to @lasermotive on Twitter. We’ll do our best to answer!