Israeli startup StoreDot said Wednesday that its ultra-fast battery charging technology can now be used to charge commercial drones in just five minutes, in what it says is a “world first.”
The company said the technology can help overcome a major barrier that is hampering drone development.
Today, it typically takes 60 to 90 minutes to charge a commercial drone, with a full charge giving a flight time of just over 30 minutes. As a result, drones spend far longer in the charging station than in operation — “an unacceptable level of downtime for any application,” the company said in a statement.
The technology will be “disruptive” for the drone industry, said Doron Myersdorf, CEO of StoreDot in a phone interview. If drones can be charged really fast, “then there is minimal downtime.”
Today, to overcome the problem of long charging times, additional batteries must be purchased and swapped between flights. This process is costly and requires a person on-site to replace the batteries, said Myersdorf, which defeats the autonomous operation of the drones and limits them to flights near charging locations that are easily accessible to humans.
All of this greatly reduces their operational efficiency and restricts their use in harsh or dangerous terrains — often where they could bring the greatest benefits, the company said in a statement.
“By reducing battery charging time to just 5 minutes – which is up to 18 times faster than existing drone batteries – and eliminating the need for human intervention, drone operators have far greater freedom about where they can site charging stations. As a result, continuous, fully-autonomous drone operation is finally being made a reality,” he said.
Sample battery-cells will be sent to drone manufacturers for testing, with full commercialization expected at the end of this year, the company said.
Founded in 2012, Tel Aviv-based StoreDot has developed a lithium ion-based battery technology, using nanomaterials and organic and inorganic compounds, which enables ultra-fast charging for the mobile and industrial markets.
The company is sending about 1,000 samples of its first generation batteries — which are suitable also for drones — for testing to makers of smartphones, medicinal devices and other accessories and tools that need power, Myersdorf said.
The outbreak of the coronavirus hampered development of the firm’s products, Myersdorf said, as the company has a joint venture with a Chinese firm to manufacture them.
Using the same technology, StoreDot is also developing a new type of ultra-fast charging electric-car battery.
In June last year, the startup said it achieved a “world first” when it successfully fully charged a two-wheeled electric vehicle in just five minutes, together with BP Ventures, the venture arm of the British multinational oil and gas firm BP plc, which has invested $20 million investment into the startup.
The firm is now working on a second generation of batteries, Myersdorf said, that will be suitable for electric vehicles. He hopes to have a commercial version ready by the end of next year in which the battery will charge vehicles in 10 minutes.
StoreDot has raised $130 million to date from investors including BP Ventures, Samsung Venture Investment, Daimler AG, the maker of the Mercedes Benz cars, and electrical and electronics maker TDK Corporation.