KC Space Pirates

In pursuit of NASA loot.

Success: 2013

We successfully beat the Laser Powered flight endurance record by double. Our flight time was 25 hours, 0 Minutes and 35 seconds. This was done at the VOX theater in Kansas City, Kansas. We used a highly modified AR-Drone Quadcopter. We did this with 500 watts of laser power and non-exotic photovoltaic cells. Our total systems hardware costs were less than $30,000. I estimate this is well less than 1/3 of the 2009 record. Much of the hardware would cost even less if purchased today. This shows the exponential increase in human technological abilities is alive and well and that commercial laser powered flight applications are only a few years away. We can look forward to flying cell towers, autonomous shark patrols and countless other applications that only become practical with beam powered flight.

Achieving the record was not without drama. The planed for 48 hours got trimmed back to 24. We continued to 25 so we could double the previous record. Turns out that human endurance plays a role as we became tired human mistakes became a prominent concern.  The lasers themselves worked flawlessly. The optics needed adjustment at the start. The quadcopter behaved like the finicky result of hacking a toy for purposes well beyond those its creators ever imagined.

The Kansas City Star covered the record, as well.

Thanks to all our supporters and sponsors. We could not be here without you.
Lasers by TRUMPF
Optics by Thorlabs
Control software by National Instruments