The concept

The Vexil is a solo flying platform concept that uses a ground-based laser to recharge its supercapacitors. With its recharge radius of five (5) miles, it could be used to explore, conduct surveillance or serve as an eco-friendly recreational vehicle.

The background

A few months ago, I was impressed by a hoverboard prototype built by Alexandru Duru, who managed to break a world record by hovering 905 feet over water (see video). Alexandru is now starting a company around his invention, but one major hurdle is battery capacity. His invention inspired me to develop the Vexil concept, which uses light to power its electric motors.

How it works

The Vexil would be equipped with 3 to 6 electric fans to lift a 180-pound rider in the air. Instead of ion-lithium batteries, it would use supercapacitors, which can accept and deliver a charge much faster than batteries, and can tolerate many more charge and discharge cycles than rechargeable batteries. Since they are almost 10 times larger than conventional batteries for a given charge, the Vexil would fill up with energy whilst flying.

A laser mounted on a small tower would be used to shoot a beam of energy directly and precisely at a receiver located under the Vexil. This receiver would convert the light beam into electricity and recharge the vehicle’s supercapacitors. The powerpack would be designed to store enough energy to fly for 2 minutes, including 30 seconds of back-up power. This means that the laser would activate for under a second every minute.

Upon starting, the laser would locate the Vexil once it was in the air. It would then synchronize itself with the unit and shoot an initial low energy beam to confirm that it was on target. Then it would shoot a short burst of energy, powerful enough to recharge the supercapacitors in a fraction of a second. The [tower-based] laser will have the capacity to rotate on 2 axes, and its beam will always remain over the horizon and aimed at the Vexil’s receptor.

Multiple types of cameras (Infrared, Thermal, 3D) and sensors could be mounted on the Vexil and used to assist the operator. For instance, it could be used in Africa to observe animals living in certain areas and to protect them from poachers. The Vexil could also be flow autonomously.

What it’s used for

If we can recharge supercapacitors safely with a micro burst of laser, then flying machines like the Vexil could be used for surveillance missions, search-and-rescue runs and even for recreational sport. As an example, skydivers could climb on it, ascend straight into the air to an altitude of 9,000 feet and dive from the platform. Of course, there are a host of other applications, but there are tons of technical challenges, too. Note that the Vexil’s configuration will most probably switch to a 6-fan layout located over the rider in a new iteration. If you have some comments about this idea, please contact us.

The Designer

The Vexil concept was developed in collaboration with Sebastian Campos Möller, an award-winning industrial designer from Mexico. Sebastian graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design and specializes in 3D and concept development for human-centered products. Sebastian has also produced the concept images for the Paragon kit for teenagers and the Recycle and Print home recycler/printer concept.