Singaporean company H3 Dynamics has launched an autonomous drone recharging station that allows UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to charge without human intervention. This would potentially allow drones to operate for months at a time.
The platform is called Dronebox and once a drone lands on it, the vehicle is charged inside the box’s shelter using solar panels, allowing the UAV to be powered up off-grid.
The drone sends data to a central server using an internet connection, or in the case of a remote area, a satellite connection.
Speaking at the Singapore Air Show, Taras Wankewycz, H3 Dynamics founder and CEO, told Reuters there were “multiple uses for the Dronebox, especially in sensitive areas that humans don’t want to go to.” He added: “For us the Dronebox is kind of like the Mars Rover but on earth, that goes to very remote areas where we don’t want to go, but inspects assets or inspect borders or national security related issues using this device.”
Wankewycz told Reuters that two major themes were taken into account when the Dronebox idea was in its infancy - security and productivity improvement.
The company says that mobile sensors hosted in networked Droneboxes could potentially revolutionize border and perimeter security
“What we have done here is gone beyond the fixed sensor, we now have a sensor that can come out of its enclosure and move, so it’s a flying sensor that goes back to its enclosure and provides the data back to its operator, it gives you much more information, also live feed on a situation which you would like to respond to as quickly as possible,” he said.
It’s also being marketed as a way of protecting wildlife, infrastructure maintenance, and oil and gas asset inspection, among other capabilities.
One of the triggers for the Dronebox idea came while team members were working on an oil and gas monitoring project and decided that the infrastructure required to service a drone when it lands in the middle of nowhere was substantial and inefficient.
“If a pipeline is 200,000 kilometers long or the network is that big, it takes forever for these people to know the information and it’s extremely expensive to stop the flow of oil as we can all imagine, so their whole concept is to know what the problems are or where they are likely to happen across an entire huge stretch of pipeline, that information is worth a significant amount to them so their dream is to be able to know the situation of their whole asset base within a day, right now it takes them more than a year and a half to cover the entire network so with Dronebox we just want to shorten the timeframe from maybe a year and a half to one day,” he said.
According to Wankewycz, the team is working on improving battery life for the drones. Currently most drones can fly up to 20 minutes but they want to improve this to an hour.
He said the company has received interest from oil companies, government agencies, various security companies, as well as drone manufacturers themselves.