Multi-day Flight Tethered Drone

Tethered Drone

This is a project I worked on with a few peers between undergrad and Masters. The goals was to extend the flight duration of a drone from minutes to days or even weeks. This accomplished with the use of a spooled, lightweight electrical tether which provides constant power to the drone and replaces its batteries.

The spooling system on the ground detects tension in the tether as the drone descends or ascends and spools in and out accordingly. Additionally, there is a powerline injection module that sits at either end of the tether that provides an unjammable uplink/downlink to the vehicle for telemetry and video.

Early drone prototype displayed at a defense conference.

Testing in the field

Control station

Integrated auto-spooler maintains constant tether slack during flight and communicates with the drone down the wire.

High-power regulator onboard the drone. This thing can do upwards 500W given sufficient cooling.

Powerline video transmission down the tether.