DARPA POWER program to develop airborne energy relays

Three teams to create new technology for wireless energy transfer in military applications

In a bid to revolutionize the future of energy distribution, DARPA is moving into the initial stage of its Persistent Optical Wireless Energy Relay (POWER) program. Three teams led by RTX Corporation, Draper Laboratory, and BEAM Co., are set to design and develop wireless optical power relays, promising an innovative approach to national defense capabilities.

“This project has the potential to advance power beaming by orders of magnitude, which could radically reshape society’s relationship with energy,”

Dr. Paul Jaffe, DARPA POWER program

Resilient speed-of-light energy network

The POWER program aims to create key components for a fast and robust energy network. These airborne energy relays will eventually be demonstrated in pods carried by aircraft, offering new possibilities for future military and civilian aircraft designs.

Phased approach for rapid development

Phase one of the program focuses on conceptual designs and will be followed by a demonstration using existing aircraft. Subsequent phases will evaluate each relay design based on several metrics like efficient energy redirection and high beam quality.

Artists concept for energy web platform Credit DARPA

New era for aircraft design

This technology has the potential to make future aircraft smaller and less expensive due to reduced requirements for fuel storage and engine volume. In the long run, this could lead to cost-effective aircraft with unlimited range and endurance.

Artists concept for energy web relay platform Credit DARPA

Overcoming energy conversion losses

Effective relays are pivotal for creating a practical and flexible wireless energy web. These will address the inefficiencies that occur when converting propagating waves to electricity in a multiple-hop network.

POWER would use relays to advance the state of the art in power beaming Credit DARPA

The role of high-altitude transmission

Relays also facilitate high-altitude power transmission, which is considerably more efficient than transmitting energy through the lower atmosphere. This adds a long-range, high-throughput backbone to the wireless energy web.

Spotlight on the three companies

RTX Corporation

RTX Corporation is a well-established name in technology and innovation. Their expertise spans multiple sectors including aerospace, cybersecurity, and automation. The company has a proven track record of delivering cutting-edge solutions, making them an ideal choice to take on the challenges of wireless energy transfer in the POWER program.

Draper Laboratory

A pioneer in the field of engineering and applied sciences, Draper Laboratory focuses on solving complex problems across multiple domains such as healthcare, space exploration, and national defense. Their experience in creating customized, advanced solutions provides them with the unique skill set necessary for pushing the envelope in optical power beaming technology.


BEAM Co. is relatively newer on the scene but no less promising. They specialize in innovative energy solutions and are driven by the ambition to redefine how energy is generated, distributed, and consumed. Their fresh perspective and commitment to exploring high-risk, high-reward technologies make them an exciting participant in this transformative project.

Each of these companies brings its own set of skills and visions to the POWER program, and collectively, they represent the vanguard of what could become a significant shift in how energy is transmitted and utilized.

Shifting the paradigms of energy distribution

DARPA’s POWER program offers a glimpse into what the future could hold for energy distribution. As the world increasingly faces diverse and complex challenges, creating more resilient, adaptable, and efficient energy networks could have broad implications, including strengthening national defense capabilities.


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