by Alan Boyle, geekwire.com
Seattle-based WiBotic is unveiling a wireless power system designed for DJI’s commercial-grade drones, a product that opens the way for seamless recharging as applications for long-lasting drones take off.
The power system works with the high-end DJI Matrice 200 and Matrice 210 drones, and is compatible with WiBotic’s PowerPad for companies seeking an end-to-end turnkey solution for drone recharging. Installation can take as little as 10 minutes, the company says.
WiBotic says the software-controlled, cloud-compliant system enables fully autonomous charging, allowing drones to be on constant standby without the need for battery-swapping. Applications could include long-term security and defense surveillance, construction site monitoring and rapid-response search and rescue, plus methane leak detection at oil well sites, refineries and offshore rigs.
“Pairing our WiBotic wireless power system with these new DJI models creates a real power couple for corporations,” WiBotic CEO Ben Waters said in a news release. “Countless commercial and defense drone applications are greatly enhanced by the use of wireless power, and we make it really simple to make that happen.”
The new system can recharge the batteries on a standard DJI Matrice 200 or 210 in about two hours, and can work with other drone brands as well. It’s designed to handle charging one drone as it moves between multiple wireless power stations, or multiple drones as they share a network of stations at different times.
WiBotic says it’ll be demonstrating the system at the InterDrone conference at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas from Sept. 5 to 7.
The company was founded in 2015 as a spin-out from the University of Washington, and offers a variety of wireless charging and power management solutions for drones as well as mobile and underwater robots. WiBotic’s weather-resilient PowerPad, released last fall, is designed to give a full recharge to commercial drones such as the DJI Inspire in one to two hours.
WiBotic raised $2.5 million last year in a funding round led by Tsing Capital, a Chinese fund management company, bringing total investment at the time to $3.25 million. Documents filed this month with the Securities and Exchange Commission report that WiBotic is in the midst of a fresh $1.5 million financing round, with five investors providing $530,000 as of the filing date.
In an email, Waters said the new financing will enable the company to scale product development and continue its focus on the rapidly growing markets for aerial, mobile and marine unmanned systems.