A patent awarded to Boeing this week outlines the aerospace giant’s plans for keeping drones in the air longer. The patent describes inflatable drones that drop tethers to the ground to recharge internal batteries, without the need to land.
Drones may need to stay airborne for extended time periods for long-term experiments, monitoring or travel, and being light can help extend onboard fuel reserves. But landing gear can be heavy. With this patent, all that landing gear can be replaced with a tether that hooks onto a charging station.
The patent would reduce the space needed to keep drones aloft, since all you need is a pole to recharge it from the ground. And it doesn’t even need that: The patent also details how a drone can be tethered to aircraft, boats, trucks or high-altitude balloons connected to power stations.
This video from PatentYogi shows how a pizza-delivery drone could stay up all day with the new charging system.