UAS charging system provides fully autonomous operations

By The UAS Magazine Staff | November 25, 2014

Germany-based Skysense Inc. is offering a line of charging pads for unmanned aerial vehicles that enables them to operate autonomously.

Andrea Puiatti, Skysense CEO, says that not only is the technology attracting the attention of UAV manufacturers looking to integrate it into their products, but it’s also available to end users who can retrofit it to their UAVs.

The Charging Pad—covered with gold-plated power tiles—solves the problem of recharging UAVs remotely, allowing operators to fly fully autonomous missions.

“There are spring-loaded contacts that touch the surface of the charging pad,” Puiatti says. “Once this happens, we create a shortcut between the power supply and the battery.”

Puiatti says the Skysense Charging Pads are already in commercial use in Europe, and the company is now taking orders for 17-, 34- and 68-inch pads. The pad kits are being manufactured in Germany and will be available for delivery in January.

Skysense is also developing a remote-controlled Drone Port, a dome-shaped hanger that encloses the UAV and Charging Pad to protect them from the elements. Puiatti expects the Drone Port to be available by March.

Skysense has attracted the attention of DroneDeploy, Infinium Robotics and AiDrones, all of which have formed partnerships with the company to integrate its technology into their hardware, according to Puiatti.

"Skysense's autonomous charging pads are an important technology, enabling fully autonomous drone operations,” says Mike Winn, CEO of DroneDeploy.

Winn expects the Charging Pads to have wide application in future services such as Amazon’s Prime Air package delivery and for near-term applications such as DroneDeploy customers using UAS in agriculture, construction and mine surveying.

Developing a practical remote-charging technology available at a reasonable price wasn’t easy. Skysense began working on the problem about a year ago.

“We recognized that one of the biggest problems was recharging,” Puiatti says. “You fly from A to B to C and back to A again. After 20 minutes, the battery is dead and you must recharge.”

After designing some prototypes, Puiatti and his colleagues at Skysense developed a wireless, easy-to-use technology.

“You just have to land on it to recharge—that’s it,” he explains. “It’s really easy to say, but there was a lot of work involved. It wasn’t easy to create a technology where you could land anywhere on a surface and recharge.”