Fiber networks are not all about Internet speeds -- but could also be used to power our airborne vehicles.
LaserMotive, a firm which focuses on developing ways to send electric power through lasers, has unveiled the world's first tethered vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft system powered by laser over optical fiber this week. Dubbed InvisiTower, the system is able to power helicopters "indefinitely" by transferring laser power through fiber optic cable, which allows the aircraft to stay in the air as long as power is available on the ground.
The power-transfer system is portable enough to fit into the back of an SUV. The firm says that InvisiTower has a number of applications in both civilian and military markets; not only suitable for use in transport, but could also be adapted for communications relays and reporting. The system has already been tested powering UAVs and mobile robots.
"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."
The company will be demonstrating the new system at the SPIE Defense, Security & Sensing (DS&S) tradeshow at the Baltimore Convention Center.
Read More: Laser Motive
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com