The battlefield of tomorrow might not be about who controls the most territory but who controls the skies for the longest. In a move that could revolutionize military drone operations, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is pouring resources into far-field wireless power transfer, a technology that promises to keep drones buzzing indefinitely.

Leading the charge is Dr. Ifana Mahbub, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas.

A report published May 17, 2024, highlights a significant boost for Dr. Mahbub’s research on far-field wireless power transfer. This comes courtesy of DARPA’s recognition of its potential to revolutionize drone operations.

In 2021, she was selected for the prestigious Young Faculty Award, which provided $500,000 over two years to lay the groundwork for this far-field wireless power transfer technology.

Now, with the additional $250,000 awarded through the Director’s Fellowship, Dr. Mahbub and her team have the resources to further refine and develop their power-beaming system, bringing this game-changing technology closer to reality.

Eliminating the Pit Stop: Powering Drones on the Fly

Imagine a scenario where critical intel-gathering drones never need to return to base for a risky landing and battery swap, exposing them to enemy fire or delaying crucial data collection.

Unmanned Aircraft System
A Raven UAS in flight. (Image source: DVIDS)

With far-field wireless power transfer, also known as power beaming, this vision becomes a reality.

This technology utilizes focused electromagnetic waves to deliver power directly to a drone in flight, eliminating a major bottleneck in drone operations.