The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) arguably develops some of the most technologically advanced systems known to man, and its latest endeavor certainly continues that tradition. While the agency’s Stand-off Ubiquitous Power/Energy Replenishment - Power Beaming Demo (SUPER PBD) program definitely has a lengthy title, it actually has the very essence of protraction at its core.
DARPA has partnered with Silent Falcon UAS Technologies and tasked it to develop a laser-based method of charging its solar electric-powered, fixed-wing drones during flight. According to the Silent Falcon press release, the goal is to establish a safe and efficient method of prolonging flight times to virtual indefiniteness, as the need to land or refuel would be removed entirely.
Silent Falcon has made a name for itself by making long endurance, long range, solar electric-powered drones, the exact combination of which was at the root of DARPA’s search for the right company to collaborate with. Using a laser light source to literally beam energy at Silent Falcon’s solar electric-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the drone could engage in sequential phases of flying, and flying while charging.