One of the biggest drawbacks of flying a drone is its battery life. Most commercial drones can not be flown for more than 35 minutes. Efforts have been made to solve the battery trouble and keep drones airborne for longer durations. Everything from wireless charging stations to lasers has been experimented upon. However, an Israeli startup called StoreDot has a more practical solution. StoreDot recently launched a fast charging battery that can fully recharge in just 5 minutes.
StoreDot’s Ultra Fast Charging Battery
StoreDot has developed a ‘FlashBattery Technology’ that tries to charge drone batteries with a very minimal flight time tradeoff. Commercial drone batteries can take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes to charge fully. Thereby, drone pilots make use of more than one battery to compensate for this time lag. However, with StoreDot’s battery innovation, the cost of an additional battery, and the time needed for charging can be drastically reduced.
“By reducing battery charging time to just 5 minutes – which is up to 18 times faster than existing drone batteries – and eliminating the need for human intervention, drone operators have far greater freedom about where they can site charging stations. As a result, continuous, fully-autonomous drone operation is finally being made a reality.” Dr. Doron Mysersdorf, CEO of StoreDot, stated.
The future implications of Ultra-Fast Charging (UFC) batteries for drones is massive. Drones will be able to explore remote environments with total autonomy and better efficiency. This would further open interesting methods of approach such as combining UFC technology with wireless charging for drones. Thus, StoreDot’s UFC batteries can prove to be a groundbreaking milestone for drone technology.
How does the UFC technology work?
The company CEO, Dr. Mysersdorf, describes the innovation as a large improvement on the current battery models. Present-day batteries make use of graphite as a material. Graphite, as he states, is not an ideal metal for UFC batteries. He states that graphite has a high resistance and is potentially explosive and not suitable for UFC.
Nanotechnology is an important factor in SotreDot’s batteries. The company states that their UFC batteries are “based on novel nanostructured materials combined with proprietary organic binders and enhanced electrolytes”. This means that these batteries have inherently very low resistance and the lithium ions in them preserve the energy.
Another great feature of these batteries is the use of a 3D binder and self-healing organic polymer-style materials. While charging and discharging, the metalloid structures in the batteries inflate and deflate, causing a few breakage points in them. The 3D binder ensures that breakage is repaired along the charge cycle.
Furthermore, to improve their batteries, StoreDot is putting artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to use. Using AI, scientists can predict and record data of different formulations to improve battery performance.
“Drones will now be able to spend much more of their valuable flight time engaged in actual missions, greatly extending their range, rather than having to return to base to have their battery swapped out,” said Mysersdorf.
World’s fastest UFC technology and commercial availability
The Israeli startup is leading the UFC arena. For the first time, in 2019, StoreDot successfully charged a 2-wheeler EV in just 5 minutes. The company has partnered with the car manufacturers Nissan as well as Tesla to develop faster-charging solutions. With a successful past record, StoreDot aims to achieve the same with commercial drone applications. StoreDot is sending about 1,000 Gen 1 UFC batteries for testing.
Dr. Mysersdorf has mentioned that by the end of next year similar batteries for automobiles could be ready. Such batteries hold the capacity to charge an electric car in just 10 minutes. The drone batteries will be commercially available as soon as the end of 2020. This innovation could possibly change the drone industry forever. Lesser charge time means more flight time and thus, better drone efficiency. This can be specifically useful to security drones, agricultural drones, survey drones, etc.