LaserMotive has used a few watts of laser power to keep a 22-gram model helicopter hovering for hours at a time, thus adding to numerous other feats attained with the use of lasers. Though, there are many applications the technology like this could be used for, but LaserMotive’s prime concern is to power space elevators to lift objects into orbit. The traditional UAVs require a lot of power from batteries and fuel, and because solar-powered aircrafts too have limitations in staying afloat for a very long time, this ground-based laser propulsion technology could provide the power to enhance the time in air.
To demonstrate this laser power, LasesMotive at AUVSI Unmanned Systems Conference in Denver, Colorado, “focused light from an array of semiconductor diode near-infrared lasers down to a 7-centimetre beam, which automatically tracked a modified radio-controlled helicopter. The aircraft carried photovoltaic cells optimised for the laser wavelength, which converted about half the laser power reaching them to generate a few watts of electricity – enough to power the rotors of the little copter.”