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Scientists figure out how to charge your drone mid-air

A group of researchers successfully use inductive coupling to wirelessly charge drones while they're flying.

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Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Scientists from Imperial College London have used a century-old concept to wirelessly charge a drone while it was still in flight, the college announced this week.

The group used inductive coupling (inventor Nikola Tesla first demonstrated in the late 1800s) in which two copper coils are tuned to one another to create a wireless exchange of power at a certain frequency.

The scientists behind the research want to use this type of charging to address the limitations of how long drones can stay in the air because of the need to re-charge, according to the college. They were able to use the technology to charge a 12-centimeter (about 4.7 inches) quadcopter drone while it flew 10 centimeters (about 3.9 inches) above its transmission source.