Laser powered UAV completes outdoor flight test

PALMDALE, Calif., 8 Aug. 2012. Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] and LaserMotive, Inc., a research and development company specializing in wireless power via laser for commercial applications., have completed a series of flight tests of the Stalker unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to validate the performance of a laser power system. These tests were performed outdoors powered by laser.

Stalker is a small, silent UAV used by special operations forces since 2006 to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. In a recent wind tunnel test, the UAV demonstrated 48 hours of continuous flight powered by this laser system.

The series of proof-of-concept tests took place in a remote desert location where environmental factors like wind and heat were constants. These tests demonstrated that the laser powered Stalker could perform in an outdoor environment. Flights were conducted in both day and night.

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.

The tests showed the Stalker receives power at ranges of up to 600 meters, as well as that the laser does not damage the Stalker or impact normal flight operations. It also demonstrated that the laser power system can survive in high temperatures and in windy conditions, and showed the accuracy of the beam director when tracking the receiver.

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