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Video: Are Drone-Powered Power Plants Coming to Your Airspace?

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Elizabeth M
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Re: Drone Power
Elizabeth M   12/17/2013 5:41:00 AM
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Hi, FeynmanFan, no, it's not a typo. It's part of the plan of the company to harness wind energy as well, as the drones will be built with wind turbines on them.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Drone Power
Elizabeth M   12/17/2013 5:24:57 AM
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Yes, LetoAtreidesil, the concerns you raise also are valid and worrying. It's true this design team has a lot of things to think about to ensure this type of system not only works but is safe. It will be interesting to see how they fare.

Charles Murray
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Re: Drone Power
Charles Murray   12/16/2013 8:38:23 PM
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I don't know if it it's sci-fi, but this idea has been out there a while. I remember the design school at Illinois Institute of Technology proposing this idea as far back as 1989. The bad news is that nothing ever came of it; the good news is that no one has been able to eliminate it from consideration in the ensuing 24 years.

FeynmanFan
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Re: Drone Power
FeynmanFan   12/16/2013 7:47:57 PM
Elizabeth,

In your original post you said "New Wave Energy wants to deploy a network of drones at a high altitude to harvest solar and wind energy".  A drone cannot harness wind energy unless it is tethered.  Are New Wave claiming to harness wind energy or was this a typo or your part?

78RPM
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Re: Drone Power
78RPM   12/16/2013 4:25:10 PM
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Elizabeth, I do think the drone part at high altitudes is possible. I hear that Google has a project in research to make balloons that will tack into the wind with no propulsion power (think of a sailboat) and stay over one spot on earth for the purpose of providing internet access to remote and under developed locations.  The part that concerns me about power plants is the idea of microwaves beaming megawatts of energy.  Microwaves are absorbed by biological organisms and I don't wish man or beast to wander into a high energy beam orders of magnitude greater than my microwave oven.  Lasers present a similar problem.  So, then, is there another energy tranfer technology we don't know about?  Nicola Tesla was reportedly onto something in energy transfer but big money interests muscled him out.

I believe energy should be free, or nearly so, and that means we need to get past carbon fuels.  Let's all think how it can be done.

Zippy
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Some considerations...
Zippy   12/16/2013 10:40:17 AM
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This snippet from Wikipedia should give the development team pause in their consideration of a rotor-powered aircraft at 50,000 feet:

 

"On June 21, 1972, Jean Boulet of France piloted an Aérospatiale Lama helicopter to an absolute altitude record of 12,442 metres (40,820 ft).[38] At the extreme altitude the engine flamed out and the helicopter had to be (safely) landed via another record breaker — the longest successful autorotation in history.[39] The helicopter had been stripped of all unnecessary equipment prior to the flight to minimize its weight and the pilot was breathing supplemental oxygen."

 

In addition to hiring an aeronautical engineer for the team, I also recommend a physicist to explain how you can hover in the wind while simultaneously harvesting the wind and not use more energy than you generate.

 

Not to be cruel, but I am reminded of the joke about the team that was planning to fly a manned rocket to the sun.  When asked about how it would handle the extreme radiation, they replied that they planned to go at night when it was dark...

LetoAtreidesII
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Re: Drone Power
LetoAtreidesII   12/16/2013 9:11:36 AM
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interesting idea, I love to see Sci-Fi of old come to life.  Bigger worry than the microwave or laser link frying planes or the ground is maintaining a fleet of these in the air.

What happens when:

    the link dies and now you have a drone sitting up there on its own uncontrolled.

   power fails and now a drone is falling from 50k feet.

   radiation levels at 50k feet are far higher how well will the electronics hold up.

I think I will put my money on space based power generation.  A failure there is less likely to come crashing down without warning. 

Good idea though and who know they may overcome all the design hurdles.

 

Elizabeth M
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Re: Drone Power
Elizabeth M   12/16/2013 6:08:41 AM
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I think I am a bit confused about where this thread is going. So what is it that you doubt, far911? That the microwaves would cause a hazard for aircraft or people? Or that this technology is viable?

Elizabeth M
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Re: Drone Power
Elizabeth M   12/16/2013 5:52:55 AM
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Also a good point, Lou. I think everyone who commented here is right about some of the technology issues that arise with this sort of deployment, and that perhaps there might be better alteratives. Maybe the team developing this system will also realize this as they are working on this project.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Drone Power
Elizabeth M   12/16/2013 5:50:31 AM
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Yes, jhankwitz, I agree that this project is going to take a serious leap in technology. This isn't something that's going to happen tomorrow, but I think it can happen at some point and would have a lot of benefits. I do think a lot about safety concerns, though, and this system better be foolproof before it takes to the air.

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