South African startup developing self-charging drones
South African tech startup WiPo Wireless Power is developing a drone that can charge itself via a wireless charger. The company believes that a continuous and autonomous drone is possible by utilising available electromagnetic fields, channelled through a wireless charger, rather than earth-based docking and charging.
The average drone can fly for a maximum of 30 minutes before needing to charge; a procedure that can take hours. However, the development team at WiPo is currently working on a charger that can successfully transfer enough power to the drones to aid continuous flight. If successful, the WiPo drones could perform tasks such as powerline inspections in a fraction of the time.
WiPo is currently producing wireless power chargers to utility and consumer electronics markets. Winners of an Innovation Hub GAP ICT in 2016, WiPo is using its profits to cover development costs of its wireless-charging drone.
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- Africa’s first drone ‘air corridor’ opens in Malawi
In 2016, researchers from the Imperial College London claimed that wireless charging of drones was now a feasible aim. Then, Global Energy Transmissions demonstrated how it could fly a tethered drone for an hour, which charged as it flew. Other charging solutions include power cords which are tied to tall buildings in order to recharge passing drones.
Facebook, Google and Amazon are all looking into wireless or alternative sources of energy for the charging of their drones and so the next big breakthrough will see continual flight.
Africa has been a hot bed of drone activities, with Malawi opening up the first drone ‘corridor’ this summer; an area of land devoted to testing drone technology. The air corridor project will run for one to two years and will see the UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) travelling up to 80km (50miles) at an altitude of 400 metres. Africa’s large expanses of open-air are said to be perfect testing grounds for drone technology.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”