It was the second day of a 3-day-long tech demonstration at the David Taylor Model Basin at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Bethesda, MD, where attendees had gathered to stand around in the dark to look at something they mostly couldn”t see. It was a long-range, free-space power beaming system—the first of its kind.
Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Vehicle Research Section and Photovoltaic Section are building on the proven concept of autonomous cooperative soaring of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Their research investigates the benefit of solar photovoltaics (PV) to cooperative autonomous soaring techniques, which enables long endurance flights of unmanned sailplanes that use the power