New 'bird' drones land on power lines to recharge themselves

A research project at the MIT university has enabled a student to produce a prototype version of a small unmanned drone that can land on nearby power lines in order to recharge itself when it runs short of power without returning to base.

Joseph Moore, the pHD candidate at MIT who is working on the project, said: “Small and micro UAVs have enabled a number of new mission capabilities, including navigating in and around buildings and performing perch-and-stare surveillance.”

One of the major limitations of these devices is that the large and powerful electric motors that power them can, in some cases, drain their batteries in just minutes, if not hours, which is not particularly useful if the drone is being used in a hazardous area such as a combat zone where they are increasingly being applied. Joseph added: “One of the primary limitations of these small vehicles is endurance, simply because they cannot carry sufficient power for long missions.” Joseph hopes that his project can help to overcome this limitation by enabling the craft to recharge quickly and safely whilst away from its base.