www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Wichita to host Special Olympics North America softball tournament -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

Via Christi to offer 2 events to help people enroll for insurance -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

Sedgwick County withdraws from National Association of Counties -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

Kansas House panel holds hearing on marriage -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

Community leaders coming together to discuss ending domestic violence -2/11/2015, 4:13 PM

Parkinson's Disease Support Group to meet in McPherson -2/5/2015, 12:05 PM

Cited owner's case includes 2-day jail stay -2/5/2015, 12:05 PM

Smoky Hills Audubon Society to host free program on protecting birds -2/5/2015, 11:10 AM

Shuttle crosses many paths -2/5/2015, 11:10 AM

Jury acquits man for aggravated assault -2/5/2015, 11:10 AM

Second police officer to appeal firing to City Council -2/2/2015, 8:07 AM

Highway closed for repair of ruptured gas line -2/2/2015, 8:07 AM

Drop, Cover, Hold On -2/2/2015, 8:07 AM

Bill would let home-schooled students play on public school sports teams -2/2/2015, 8:07 AM

Wichita school district's Choices Fair set for Thursday -1/28/2015, 4:07 PM

United drops nonstop service from Wichita to LA -1/28/2015, 3:04 PM

Teen accused of assaulting girl with knife at school -1/28/2015, 3:04 PM

Mission of Mercy to offer free dental care in Salina -1/28/2015, 3:04 PM

As Kansas turns 154, five events that shaped our state -1/28/2015, 3:04 PM

Kansas Senate set to pass 'constitutional carry' of concealed guns, no permit required -1/22/2015, 12:07 PM

Kansas Senate committee hears from medical marijuana supporters -1/22/2015, 11:04 AM

Defendant in burglaries case ID'd in video -1/22/2015, 11:04 AM

Barber Co. manhunt was short-lived on Facebook -1/22/2015, 11:04 AM

Airport boss shocked with surprise honor on 30-year work anniversary -1/22/2015, 11:04 AM

Meetings to discuss goals of education -1/22/2015, 11:02 AM

Wichita City Council could vote on marijuana issue Tuesday -1/22/2015, 11:02 AM

Salina woman's bank card fraudulently used -1/16/2015, 4:59 PM

Retiring judge marks end to an era -1/16/2015, 4:05 PM

Man accused of beating, shocking woman -1/16/2015, 4:05 PM

Wichita City Council votes 5-2 to move ahead with library plans -1/13/2015, 2:50 PM

Restaurant employee arrested for allegedly adding to tip -1/13/2015, 2:49 PM

Misdialed 911 calls from cellphones waste taxpayers' money -1/13/2015, 2:49 PM

Mahindra to launch Midwest distribution center in Lyons -1/13/2015, 2:49 PM

County commission votes Shadwick chairman -1/13/2015, 2:44 PM

Dr. Donna Sweet earns award from American College of Physicians -1/9/2015, 3:05 PM

Boeing on track with deliveries of Poseidon jets to the Navy -1/9/2015, 3:05 PM

Prosecutors receive additional reports in child torture case -1/9/2015, 3:04 PM

Politico: Huelskamp flip-flops on Speaker vote -1/7/2015, 11:00 AM

No-till farming focus of winter conference in Salina -1/7/2015, 11:00 AM

Negative publicity costly to county -1/7/2015, 11:00 AM

Hutch man pleads guilty to assault on officer -1/7/2015, 11:00 AM

Final person sentenced in connection with beating of Salina woman -1/7/2015, 10:59 AM

City Council to consider higher storm water utility fees -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

Change for the better -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

Sylvia home deemed total loss after fire -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

New commissioners respond to county issues -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

Man arrested in connection with alleged rape -1/5/2015, 12:00 PM

Man shot dead in Haysville during reported break-in attempt -12/30/2014, 11:02 AM

Cold front plunges much of Kansas into deep freeze -12/30/2014, 11:02 AM

Access TV looking to increase quality -12/30/2014, 11:02 AM

Voting for grants will end on Christmas Day -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Santa Claus welcome year-round at Hutch home -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Marquette tyke gets big wish; family destined for Disney World -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Kan. death has spurred work on virus -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Hospice rep goes to bat for nonprofit -12/23/2014, 10:56 AM

Cirque du Soleil coming to Wichita -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

V-Plan transmission line now in service -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Plains pupils: Pluto's a planet -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Hutch United Way campaign slips further from goal -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Hutch inmate charged with sexual assault -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Colorado teenager injured in 1-vehicle wreck on I-70 -12/20/2014, 4:00 PM

Salina Journal hires attorney to pursue names of county commission candidates -12/17/2014, 11:01 AM

Hays resident to sign copies of his book in Salina -12/17/2014, 11:01 AM

Grandview Plaza shows another clean audit -12/17/2014, 11:01 AM

Eighth-grader earns educational opportunity -12/17/2014, 11:01 AM

koch121514 -12/15/2014, 9:56 AM

Cattle rustlers hit several counties -12/14/2014, 6:13 PM

Michael McDonald brings soulful sounds of Christmas to Stiefel Theatre -12/12/2014, 12:02 PM

McCarville enjoyed Kan. Supreme Court work -12/12/2014, 12:02 PM

Constructing gingerbread houses en masse -12/12/2014, 12:02 PM

City redefines 'perennial violator' -12/9/2014, 11:59 AM

Feast day to shine with celebration, anniversary -12/9/2014, 10:56 AM

Ed board has lesson for 5 eyeing seats -12/9/2014, 10:56 AM

Century-old Christmas letter still has meaning -12/9/2014, 10:56 AM

Thirteen apply for commission seats -12/9/2014, 10:56 AM

Max Heim selected interim president of Colby Community College -12/9/2014, 10:56 AM

Gold coin gives needed boost to Salvation Army kettle campaign -12/9/2014, 10:56 AM

Abilene's Garfield Elementary has potential -12/5/2014, 5:54 PM

Man arrested for shoplifting at Salina Walmart -12/5/2014, 4:51 PM

Former school counselor sentenced for rape of 13-year-old boy -12/5/2014, 4:51 PM

Design for Central starts taking shape -12/5/2014, 4:51 PM

Kansas highway projects to proceed as state grapples with budget -12/4/2014, 2:00 PM

Foreclosures continue to fall in Kansas -12/4/2014, 2:00 PM

Sedgwick County trying to renegotiate IRS building deal -12/4/2014, 1:59 PM

Wichita police find 75-year-old woman -12/4/2014, 1:50 PM

High Touch acquires Overland Park technology services firm -12/4/2014, 1:50 PM

For five decades, TV anchor Larry Hatteberg stayed innovative, kind -11/29/2014, 5:58 PM

Details are sketchy on robbery at Kwik Shop -11/29/2014, 5:58 PM

Animal shelter director expected to take job in Amarillo -11/29/2014, 5:58 PM

Kobach on schedule to address Hutch tea party -11/29/2014, 5:57 PM

Some like it not: Graffiti unwelcome -11/29/2014, 5:57 PM

Defendant in Fairmount Park attack now charged with capital murder -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

Weigand shuffles executive leadership -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

Share the Season: Son's hospital stay put mom behind on bills -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

Sedgwick County property tax bills went out this week, some incorrectly -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

Injured vet, family find reasons to be thankful through hard times -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

Foster dad pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in baby's death in hot car -11/26/2014, 2:54 PM

WSU to dedicate upgraded lab to study electrical power -11/24/2014, 4:55 PM

Wilbur Middle School employee placed on leave after arrest -11/24/2014, 4:55 PM

Wichita investors announce plan for southeast Kansas casino -11/24/2014, 4:55 PM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

KC team claims laser-powered drone flight record

Published on -9/30/2013, 3:17 PM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

By MARK DAVIS

The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- A team of Kansas City robotics enthusiasts kept a toy helicopter equipped with solar panels airborne for more than 24 hours this weekend by using a laser instead of the sun.

Brian Turner of the KC Space Pirates said their accomplishment doubled the previous record for laser-powered flight, The Kansas City Star (http://is.gd/7x39xN) reports.

More importantly, it showed that the concept works reliably.

Someday, laser-powered drones may serve as airborne cell towers or deliver refrigerated vaccines to remote locations. Lasers could recharge satellites' batteries or harvest solar power generated on satellites and deliver them to Earth.

The Space Pirates' laser-powered craft, however, was more like the Wright brothers' contraption than a Boeing 747.

"It started out life as a $300 toy called an AR Drone," he said. "We made some modifications."

They hung solar panels below the four-rotor copter. The panels absorbed energy from a 500-watt laser beamed at it from about 90 feet away and kept the copter's five-minute batteries charged all day.

The laser's beam was invisible, given that it was infrared light below the wavelengths the human eye can see. But it was many times more powerful than lasers that could harm a person's vision.

That's why, all weekend, someone always stood ready to hit the emergency stop button. And another team member was charged with making sure the stop-button sentry stayed awake.

"We're concerned about reflections," said Turner, sporting infrared-blocking eyewear over his glasses.

For example, the back of the solar panel beneath the copter was reflective. If the mechanical bird had unexpectedly turned around, it would have randomly scattered the powerful laser.

Luckily, that didn't happen. But plenty did on the way to the 24-hour flight.

Setup had begun early Friday evening inside the Vox Theatre in Kansas City, Kan. The copter floated about 7 feet in the air above a large white platform. An on-board camera and a computer program kept the vehicle stationary except for a slight swaying.

The invisible laser shot across the long hall, striking the solar panel and keeping the batteries charged and the vehicle aloft.

A second green laser also hit the panel so team members could see easily that the power-providing invisible light was on target.

An hour into the run, however, the laser slid off target, having been shaken loose on the way to the theater. The battery ran low and the copter touched down.

Two more hours of flight were wasted when air gusts from opening a door sent the drone off its target. It crashed into a nearby screen, and three of the 24 solar cells on the panel broke.

Repairs and adjustments took about half a day. The next flight lasted five hours until the team accidentally disrupted communications between the base computer and the copter. It touched down before anyone could grab the manual control, a Logi-tech game controller.

Finally, the record flight began Saturday afternoon, and the record fell around 4 a.m. Sunday. The team stayed another 13 hours to double the old mark.

The whole weekend was broadcast live online and recorded with time clocks running. Both were offered as evidence of the accomplishment, though, according to Turner, no organization officially recognized the achievement or that of the previous record holders.

"We just basically believe them," he said.

------

Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos