Seattle-based WiBotic today took the wraps off an integrated wireless charging pad for drones, as well as an onboard charger that weighs just 1.6 ounces.
The two new products are part of the University of Washington spinout’s strategy to provide a system for charging up robotic aerial vehicles as they go about their business, untouched by human hands.
The plug-and-play system is set up to send power wirelessly at short range from the pad’s transmitter to the charger’s receiver. Then the transmission is converted into electricity for a drone’s batteries. It’s an alternative to switching out batteries by hand, or hooking it up to a direct-contact charging system.
Until recently, WiBotic sold the system only as a development kit that had to be customized for specific applications. Based on the feedback from early-stage customers, the company saw an opportunity for a standardized solution.
“We built the PowerPad as a fairly simple, enclosed, weather-resilient system that gives folks a piece of infrastructure that solves their power problem right off the bat,” WiBotic CEO Ben Waters told GeekWire.
The 3-by-3-foot PowerPad looks a lot like a metal coffee table with a plastic lid. Waters said the cost ranges from a “couple of thousand to several thousand dollars,” depending on how weatherproof the pad needs to be. The pad can be connected to AC power, or to a DC source such as a solar-powered storage battery.