In recent years, with the rapid development of the UAV industry, A number of well-known enterprises such as Dji and Corbett Aviation emerged on the market and causes continued focus from capital and industry giants. However, the short flight time (general consumer drones only 20 minutes or so) still limit the application and development of the UAV. How to solve the problem of battery with short flight time? What role can IC products play in this area?
Flight time is less than 45 minutes but Charging over 1 hour
With the development of science and technology in recent years the application of UAV has expand from military to civilian areas, and it becomes more and more popular. According to the forecasts from research firm BI Intelligence, the next 10 years UAV will account for the UAV market share of 12%, valued at $ 98 billion. The current market size is 30 billion RMB in the UAV market. with the improvement of our airspace and UAV open regulatory policy, the next 10 years China’s civilian UAV growth is expected to exceed 30%.
However, at the same time in the fast start of UAV market , the limited flight time and other constraints have gradually become prominent. Flight time has been a limit in the development of UAV technology. Currently, the UAV battery on market ofthen use lithium battery as the main driving force, and endurance is typically between 20-30 minutes. This is a major short board of the development of UAV, greatly limiting the overall potential of the UAV industry.
According to the reporter’s investigation, the UAV on market including Dji and multi-rotor mostly use lithium batteries as an energy source currently. Because lithium batteries with mature technology are easy to purchase. But individual differences, incomplete balanced charge and discharge, and long charging time for high power battery make it more cumbersome to use. The biggest problem is flight time. Lithium battery with the weight of 300 grams theoretically allow UAV with 500 grams weight to flight 17 minutes, even taking into account the technical differences, as well as the body weight and other factors, the flight time of vast majority of UAVs are all within 45 minutes. But the charging time is more than one hour.
Therefore, it is a challenge for all UAV manufacturers must face: how to enhance UAV endurance and allowed them to meet consumer or even industrial market demand.
Power management chip technology plays a important role of UAVs on market
The biggest problem we are facing is the lithium battery of UAVs with short flight time. It is no breakthrough in the material of lithium battery.In that case, there are two ways to solve the problem: some manufacturers began to try new replacement materials for lithium battery ; Adopting technology of power management chip to achieve effective energy management. Prolong flight time of battery to the utmost extent and charge battery fast.
HUS company in Singapore developed the first multiaxial UAV HYCOPTER using hydrogen fuel cell in May 2015. It can fly continuously for four hours with no load, even under full load of 1 kg can still support 150 minutes. Currently, Dji, Corbett aviation and other manufacturers are also making use of hydrogen fuel cells attempt.
However, as the most common materials, lithium battery with solid power, mature technology, and the use of safety are still the most preferred electricity choice for consumer drones. For example, in September 2015, a leader in the field of electric vehicles, Tesla publicly announced a specific application of aerial UAV prototype. With its strength in battery and power management technology, a UAV from Tesla equipped 10000mAh battery. It can fly 60 minutes a single charge, and the charging time is only about 20 minutes.
In this case, the superior power management chip technology has become one of the key factors to affect the success or failure of the UAV market.
The key point is to find a balance charge
So how the current power management chip technology develop in the UAV market? According to reports, battery management chip is a kind of chip to perform condition monitoring, security management and charge management of battery of electronic device. It can control the voltage of charge current , promise the security of battery, and predict accurately on remaining capacity of battery. IC performance of battery management has a great impact on the operation and use of electronic security equipment
Power management chip has very broad applications, and it is widely used in smart phones, laptops, charging treasure, tablet PCs, smart wearable devices and other products. At the same time, as the quantity of electronic products increases using the power management chip to achieve fast charging has been in the leading place on market.
UAV is the most promising market to achieve fast charging. According to reports, from power management chip, there are similar solutions between smart phones and UAVs. However, charging the phone is subjected to the restriction of USB interface and battery. USB interface typically supplies at 5V . Currently, the highest voltage of mobile phone battery is generally 4.2V, and the high voltage of fast charge eventually drop itself to a voltage the phone battery can withstand and then increase the current to achieve fast charge. The Principle of UAV fast charge, although the same with mobile phone, need to increase their voltage or current, but the difference is, the battery may be made up of several lithium cells (such as three cells 3 * 4 = 12V, that is, to charge the battery at 12V). Because the realization of the tandem cell, we need to consider the balance charging problem to prevent the accidents caused by charge imbalance.
As for the future technological development, on one hand, fast charge technology of the mobile phone is trying to find a high voltage (such as 12V) for mobile phone into a high current. On the other, attention need to be paid to the phone adapter and communication protocols to prevent high voltage burning the phone . There are no restrictions in UAVs, and it is the fastest as long as each cell can withstand the maximum voltage and current. Therefore, there is great room for the development of the technology of UAV fast charge in the future.