The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA is developing energy technology that can power machines thousands of miles away. The new technology is called POWER (Persistent Optical Wireless Energy Relay).
Wires are usually used to power electrical mechanisms. The availability of an efficient wireless power transmission solution limits the adoption of electric cars, tanks, and aircraft. The POWER system overcomes these limitations by using lasers to transmit energy from a ground source to a remote receiver, allowing aircraft and vehicles to be powered over long distances.
In theory, this will allow the plane to fly for as long as the pilot can control it. Tanks and other combat vehicles will not turn into a pile of useless metal in the absence of fuel tankers.
The new technology offers great promise, but there are still several obstacles to overcome. The most serious of them is that lasers only work within line of sight. To circumvent this problem, a network of repeaters in the upper atmosphere would have to be used. Additionally, vehicles will need to remain stable and maintain focus while charging.
At the moment, the POWER system is only at the first stage of its development. In the next phase, DARPA will implement the technology into an existing aircraft. The third phase plans to use the POWER system to transmit 10 kW of power to an aircraft over a range of 125 miles (201 km).