Dec. 11 - A company in Washington state is developing wireless technology that delivers electricity via laser beams. The scientists and engineers who run the company, Lasermotive, are using the lasers to power aerial drones but say their technology could also replace conventional power lines to deliver electricity to homes. Jane Ross paid them a visit.
Beaming up with laser power. U.S. scientists are taking the wires out of power delivery, using laser to transmit electricity. Lasermotive's technology transforms regular electricity into light, beams it through the air and converts it back into power. Co-founder Tom Nugent says company's current focus is ground-to-air recharging for unmanned aircraft. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TOM NUGENT, CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF LASERMOTIVE, SAYING: "The wireless power via laser can be used to keep small unmanned aircraft flying as long as you want, which can be very important because landing can damage them, and in many cases you don't want them to land." They've already flown a miniature helicopter for more than 12 hours on a five-minute battery. And partnered with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin to power their Stalker unmanned aircraft. But Nugent has his sights set beyond the sky. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TOM NUGENT, CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF LASERMOTIVE, SAYING: "Looking out to the truly long-term, we can go out to longer distances and even transmit power, say, from earth all the way up to orbit for satellites." And with recent advances in commercial laser technology, Nugent says the many applications of wireless power delivery are becoming both scientifically and economically viable.