LaserMotive is commercializing laser power beaming to transmit electricity without wires for applications where wires are either cost prohibitive or physically impractical. They won the NASA-sponsored Power Beaming Challenge Level 1 prize in 2009.
This January, team members Tom Nugent, Jr., and Dave Bashford became the first official full-time employees of LaserMotive, moving into the small office section of the Kent shop.
The focus for Team LaserMotive is on the 2010 Level 2 prize in the Power Beaming Challenge (scheduled for May), LaserMotive, LLC, has its eye on the future applications of power beaming.
For example, LaserMotive is already working to develop ways of recharging unmanned aerial vehicles, such as the “drones” used by the military. The majority of drones that are lost are lost during takeoff and landing for refueling.
The work being done by LaserMotive should allow the military to literally beam energy to the unmanned vehicles while they are still in the air, saving time and cutting down on risk.
In the 2009 Poewr Beaming Challenge after successfully completing Level 1 of the Power Beaming Challenge by climbing the 1 km at a pace of 3.8 meters per second (nearly twice the required 2 m/s), the LaserMotive team pulled out all the stops in an attempt to qualify for the Level 2 prize and take home the additional $1.1 million in prize money.
Level 2 requires the climbers to complete the challenge at a pace of 5 meters per second and the team knew the only way to do that would be for Otis to drop some weight. They removed 0.7 kg (16%), coming in at his new fighting weight of 4.3 kg.
The lighter, faster Lasermotive climber improved his speed as he headed up the ribbon, but a combination of too much laser power early in the race (which blew a power converter) and accidentally dragging the launch platform along doomed the effort to exceed 5 m/s averaged over a climb
For the May 10, 2010 (tentative date) challenge the Lasermotive team will have time to properly reduce the weight and make some more improvements to get the increased speed.
LaserMotive has every right to be confident, the Kansas City Space Pirates and the University of Saskatchewan Space Elevator team have gathered enough data to know that the 5 meter per second target is within reach of their systems.