|Founder||Tom Nugent and Jordin Kare|
LaserMotive was founded in 2006 by physicists Tom Nugent and Jordin Kare. The company's initial goal was to win the NASA Centennial Challenges Power Beam challenge. After winning the challenge, LaserMotive focused on developing the power beaming technology for commercial application on UAVs.
The power beaming system uses a laser running from a power supply. To define the beam size at its destination, the laser's light can be shaped by a set of optics. This light energy can be sent through air or the vacuum of space, onto a photovoltaic (PV) receiver, where it is converted back into electricity.
The electrical-to-optical conversion efficiency of modern laser technology can be over 85%, and off-the-shelf lasers can have an output efficiency of around 50%. The optical-to-electrical conversion efficiency of a photovoltaic receiver can be over 50% for monochromatic (or laser) light.
Lasermotive has investigated numerous applications for its laser power beaming technology, including transmission of power both to and from the ground, spacecraft, aerial vehicles, satellites, and a lunar rover.
The company's stated first goal was to win the Beam Power Challenge, part of the Space Elevator Games, to power a small climber up a vertical tether. They partnered with Boeing, which provided them with test facilities, as well as specialized solar cells. In 2007, they failed to qualify for the Challenge due to difficulties meeting NASA's specifications.
At the 2009 Challenge, on November 6, 2009, LaserMotive successfully used lasers to drive a 4.8 kg (11 lb) device up a 900 m (2,950 ft) cable suspended from a helicopter. Energy is transmitted to the climber using a high-power infrared beam. LaserMotive's entry, which was the only to top the cable, reached an average speed of 13 km/h (8.1 mph) and earned a $900,000 prize. This marked both a performance record, and the first award of a cash prize at the Challenge.
On October 28, 2010, Lasermotive set a flight endurance record at the Future of Flight Center by powering a quadcopter UAV for more than 12 hours using laser propulsion. The vehicle was equipped with a small on-board battery capable of only a few minutes of flight.
On August 7, 2012, LaserMotive equipped a Lockheed Martin Stalker UAS with a laser receiver, and the system was successfully demonstrated during day and night operations in the desert. This series of demonstration flights is described as "the first-ever outdoor flight of a UAS powered by laser". In a future test, the two companies plan to demonstrate a flight lasting "two to three days".
- "Executive staff-Tom Nugent" LaserMotive. Retrieved July 9, 2012
- "Executive staff-Jordin Kare" LaserMotive. Retrieved July 9, 2012
- Suriyanarayanan, Balachander (2011-03-13). "LaserMotive's power beaming system prepares ground for space elevator's lift-off". International Business Times. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
the system starts with a laser running from a power supply, with the laser light shaped by a set of optics to define the beam size at its destination. This light then propagates through air or the vacuum of space until it reaches the photovoltaic (PV) receiver. This array of PV cells then converts the light back into electricity. Laser Power Beaming only requires physical installations at the transmitting and receiving points, and nothing in between. The receiver can be moved to a different location, closer or further away, without changing the cost of the system. And power can be available as soon as the elements are placed and turned on, instead of having to wait for wires to be buried or hung from poles.
- "LaserMotive at Space Access '08". Space Prizes. 2008-04-01. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
- "LaserMotive Corporate Background" (PDF). LaserMotive. 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
- Jordin T., Kare; Nugent, Jr., Thomas J.; Pakhomov, Andrew V. (2007). "Laser Power Beaming On A Shoestring". Fifth International Symposium on Beamed Energy Propulsion. 997. Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort, Hawaii: American Institute of Physics: 97–108. doi:10.1063/1.2931935. Retrieved 14 January 2010
- "Second Day Results". Space Elevator Games. The Spaceward Foundation. 2009-11-05. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
- Moskowitz, Clara (2009-11-06). "Seattle Team Wins $900,000 in Space Elevator Contest". Space.com. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
- "Main". Blog. LaserMotive. Retrieved 2009-11-07.