Most multicopter drones can only fly for about 30 minutes, after which their battery has to be recharged for one to two hours – this limits their practical use. According to Israeli company StoreDot, though, its FlashBattery tech delivers a full charge in just five minutes.
We last heard from StoreDot three years ago. At that time, the startup reportedly used a higher-capacity version of the FlashBattery system to recharge an electric car’s battery pack in five minutes.
As we explained then, the FlashBatteries themselves incorporate chemically synthesized peptide molecules known as nanodots. These form the basis for a multi-function electrode, allowing super capacitor-style rapid charging with a slow discharge similar to a lithium-ion battery.
The chemical compound that’s used isn’t flammable and has a higher combustion temperature than graphite, which cuts the resistance of the battery. What’s more, the required bio-organic raw materials are claimed to be environmentally friendly, naturally abundant, and inexpensive.
In this week’s announcement, StoreDot stated that a scaled-down version of the system has been incorporated into an autonomously operated drone-charging station, for use with drones utilizing the company’s batteries. It is claimed that a completely discharged battery can be recharged to 100 percent in five minutes, although the energy density of that battery is a bit less than that of a traditional lithium-ion model – as a result, “flight time is only slightly reduced.”
The price of the system has yet to be announced, but it’s said to be competitive with existing drone battery technology … when the total operating costs are taken into consideration. That proviso refers to the company’s claim that when using regular batteries and chargers, delivery drones will have to sit idle for long periods of time while recharging (resulting in lost revenue), or they’ll be limited to using crewed stations in easily-accessible locations, where paid workers perform battery-swaps.
“Drones will now be able to spend much more of their valuable flight time engaged in actual missions, greatly extending their range, rather than having to return to base to have their battery swapped out,” says StoreDot CEO Dr. Doron Myersdorf. “At the same time, UFC [ultra-fast charging] will also enable drone users to expand their operations into regions they could not previously access. Both of these factors will significantly increase operational efficiencies and profitability, making the business case for drone use much more attractive than ever before.”
Sample batteries are currently available to drone manufacturers for testing, with a commercial rollout of the system planned to take place near the end of the year. The charging station can be seen in use, in the video below.