Nikola Tesla had a dream more than 100 years ago that today, with the advancement of technology, could possibly become a reality, reducing the US military’s need for liquid fuel or vulnerable fuel lines. DARPA is trying to build the infrastructure for wireless energy transfer technology and put the country’s military in an energy-undisruptable position.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking to use laser technology to beam electrical energy across the planet. If this technology succeeds, powering the military during war will no longer be a major problem.
In an interview with Popular Mechanics website, Colonel Paul Calhoun says: “The conditions of the world have changed and the need for more flexible ways to provide energy in military operations has reached its highest level. “Technologically, there have been significant advances in high-energy lasers, wave sensors, adaptive optics, electric aerial platforms, safety interlocks, and high-efficiency photovoltaic devices.”
The project DARPA is pursuing is called POWER, which takes its name from “continuous optical wireless energy relay.” In this project, lasers are used that emit at high altitudes and have a large range and energy. Using its relays, this system directs the laser energy without manipulation, and then the end user receives this laser and converts it into electricity.
However, one of the main challenges of this project is providing reliable relays. “With the development of high-efficiency relays, DARPA sees a huge opportunity to revolutionize power distribution mechanisms,” says Calhoun. “These relays will allow existing technologies to be used side by side to create a flexible, adaptive, and multi-line wireless energy network.”
Wireless energy will be transmitted by drones and satellites
Relays in the form of durable drones and satellites will play a key role in the future of these systems. These drones, which move at high altitudes, send laser energy to each other from long distances and then deliver it to military bases. Satellites can also play the same role in orbit.
“The POWER project is developing small-aperture stratospheric platforms with a range of approximately 100 kilometers between nodes,” says Calhoun. By increasing the size of the apertures and being in an unobstructed environment like space, the distance between the nodes can be increased to 1000 km.” As a result, there is a network for energy distribution that is scalable and can be used all over the world.
This project, like other DARPA projects, after completing the theoretical phase, will be entrusted to other government agencies to start its operational implementation. In addition to military uses, POWER can be used to provide energy to remote villages and things like that. Also, supplying energy to this system through renewable sources can increase the attractiveness of this mechanism.