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Power Space Hardware

Power Beaming For UAVs and Space Elevators 137

Posted by kdawson
from the beam-me-up-jim dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The idea of power beaming — using lasers or microwaves to transmit usable energy over great distances — has been around for decades. But recent advances in cheaper, more energy-efficient diode lasers have made power beaming commercially viable. LaserMotive, based in Kent, WA, is best known for winning the Level 1 prize of the NASA Power Beaming Challenge at the Space Elevator Games last November. In a new interview with Xconomy, LaserMotive co-founder Tom Nugent, who previously worked on the 'photonic fence' mosquito-zapping project at Intellectual Ventures, talks about gearing up for Level 2 of the NASA competition, slated for later this year. What's more, LaserMotive is trying to build a real business around beaming power to unmanned aerial vehicles, remote sensors and military bases, and other locations where it's impractical to run a wire, change batteries, or truck in fuel. The ultimate goal is to beam large amounts of solar power to Earth."
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Power Beaming For UAVs and Space Elevators

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  • Re:Sounds cool (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Laser Dan (707106) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @12:13AM (#31841836)

    I'm surprised that with all the recent news of NASA being marginalized that they can still have competitions like this? Or have I just got the wrong impression of the state of NASA's future?

    The prizes are tiny compared to NASAs budget, and save them a lot of time and resources.

    They get multiple groups working on something and only have to pay the prize to the best, so I'd say it's pretty efficient for them. Not so much for the teams that don't win though.

  • Re:Sounds cool (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @12:26AM (#31841894)

    I'm more surprised as to why this anonymous reader is advertising LaserMotive so much. It starts out talking about the competition and so-on, but in the end it ends up focusing exclusively on LaserMotive.

    Unless, of course, LaserMotive is going to bring out a new product and they're trying to get some astroturfing in so in the future we'll be all "Oh hey, that's that innovative new company with the power and the beaming and the nasa winnings and so forth."

    Or maybe I'm just a cynical bastard. Oh well!

  • by sexybomber (740588) <boccilino&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @12:41AM (#31841946)
    If an Earth orbit elevator cable were to get cut, I think most of the ribbon would burn up completely as it fell, no? Especially on the second pass, it would be falling through the full thickness of the atmosphere. It might rain soot along the entire equator for a while, maybe the occasional chunk or two, but probably nothing more serious than that. In the thinner Martian atmosphere, though... less air resistance, longer cable... yeah, that'll fuck with ya. I remember that scene too. Great book.
  • Re:Sounds cool (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @01:30AM (#31842140) Homepage Journal

    whats the t&c's on these competitions? you might find anything you invent for the comp isn't your property

    You may be completely ignorant of the Centennial Challenges program too..

    Having actually spoken with competitors I can tell you that they all say they're glad they entered the competition even when they don't win.

  • by silentcoder (1241496) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @03:36AM (#31842596) Homepage

    >I mean really, what could go wrong when sending massive amounts of energy through the air?

    Well looking at an existing experiment doing just that... a random planet can have multiple elements starting to behave in highly abherent ways, self-replicate, become self-aware and call itself "life" ? You do realize that, that is exactly what the sun does every single day right ?

  • by Fex303 (557896) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @04:04AM (#31842678)

    Show me the energy costs, including extraction, installation, maintenance, oh, and keeping the people who do all those things alive so that they can keep doing them indefinitely.

    Because with a coal mine you've got none of those costs, right?

  • by rts008 (812749) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @04:30AM (#31842774) Journal

    If everyone had your attitude, we would still be living in caves in Africa.

    Don't push the boundaries, and stay in your mom's basement for all I care.
    But your display of your lack of adventure/exploration/curiosity paints you into a corner from my view.

    *hyperbole warning*
    Real men with balls are explorers, always pushing the boundaries.
    Real men have the balls to attempt and fail, learning something, and trying again.
    Real men don't give up until they see their vision through, or die.
    *end hyperbole*

    Humans are renowned for their curiosity, and the mental capacity to satisfy that inherit curiosity.

    Therefore, by my straw-man reasoning, I have deduced that you are subhuman. ;-)

    Your type contribute nothing to our world. You're just leeches; a detriment to our society/species/world.

    Win or lose, you should applaud their effort[or turn in your geek/nerd card and STFU]. We all benefit, directly, or indirectly.

    There is a reason Star Trek had such an affect on society/industry/science.

    "To boldly go where no man has gone before.."

    That appealed directly to our species sense of adventure/curiosity.

         

  • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @07:42AM (#31843464) Homepage Journal

    Was I the only one who read that as Ted Nugent?

    In any case, I worked in the mosquito control field for years, and his claims for the fence were not only bogus, they were *typically* bogus: " The system is 'so precise that it can specify the species, and even the gender, of the mosquito being targeted.'"

    Right. That's one of the standard claims of the mosquito control crackpot. People have been making this claim for decades, but there's only one known way to identify a mosquito species: you put the specimen under a microscope and have somebody trained in mosquito taxonomy study it. This is done *routinely* by mosquito control districts who set up trap networks to assess human exposure. A system that could identify mosquito species electronically in real time would be worth tens of millions of dollars per year in the US alone.

    If he could prove that one capability alone, I'd gladly mortgage my house for a stake in a business to produce *just the identification piece* -- much less the mosquito killing laser. But it's obviously the kind of claim a crackpot would make. I'm not saying that it is physically impossible to do what he claims, but it is so far beyond the capability of current technology that I'd have to conclude this guy is a crackpot.

  • There is a reason Star Trek had such an affect on society/industry/science. "To boldly go where no man has gone before.." That appealed directly to our species sense of adventure/curiosity.

    Plus, Kirk always got the hot chicks.

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