StoreDot has developed ultra-fast charging (UFC) technology for UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that can fully charge a commercial drone in five minutes. This milestone, which the company claims is a world first, overcomes major barriers to continuous, fully-autonomous drone operations associated with slow charging times.
Full charging of a commercial drone typically takes between 60 to 90 minutes for a flight time of just over 30 minutes. Drones thus spend a lot of downtime in charging stations, and this problem is usually overcome by purchasing extra batteries that must be swapped out between flights, requiring a “man-in-the-loop” and thus preventing true full autonomy.
This requirement for a human operator also limits drone ranges of operation, as they are restricted to locating charging stations at sites that are easily accessible to humans, and must spend part of their limited flight time travelling to and from the nearest charging point.
When used with an ultra-fast charging station, StoreDot’s FlashBattery technology drastically reduces drone charging times with very little tradeoff in terms of energy density, meaning that flight time is only slightly reduced. Sample cells are currently being made available to drone manufacturers for testing, with full commercialization expected in the near future.
Dr. Doron Myersdorf, CEO of StoreDot, commented: “The launch of a UFC solution for drones changes the game. By reducing battery charging time to just 5 minutes – which is up to 18 times faster than existing drone batteries – and eliminating the need for human intervention, drone operators have far greater freedom about where they can site charging stations. As a result, continuous, fully-autonomous drone operation is finally being made a reality.”
“Drones will now be able to spend much more of their valuable flight time engaged in actual missions, greatly extending their range, rather than having to return to base to have their battery swapped out. At the same time, UFC will also enable drone users to expand their operations into regions they could not previously access. Both of these factors will significantly increase operational efficiencies and profitability, making the business case for drone use much more attractive than ever before.”
“In applications where cutting response times is critical, and where organizations must also demonstrate a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint, the use of drones can play a crucial role in helping to establish a competitive advantage. However, commercial drone ventures haven’t really taken off up until now as they haven’t yet delivered an economical business model. For these types of companies, UFC technology can hugely improve and extend their existing operations and make them much more profitable. We believe this technology can also open the door for new players to enter this space and extend their service offering, making drones a more attractive proposition as a new revenue stream.”