LaserMotive raises $1.5 million to boost innovations in laser power transmission

Lasermotive's David Bashford and Tom Nugent
LaserMotive’s David Bashford and Tom Nugent monitor a laser experiment. (LaserMotive via YouTube)

LaserMotive, a stealthy pioneer in laser-based power transmission that’s based in Kent, Wash., has raised more than $1.5 million in an equity offering, according to documents filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Investments totaling $1,515,733 have been registered over the past year, according to the filing. The investors’ identities have not yet been made public, and LaserMotive did not immediately respond to GeekWire’s inquiries today.

The company’s co-founder, president and CEO, Tom Nugent, told GeekWire in a January email exchange that LaserMotive has “continued to be in stealth mode over the last couple of years, and we’re not ready to go into too many details yet on where we are.”

LaserMotive focuses on laser applications for transmitting power. In 2009, the company won a $900,000 NASA prize in a competition for laser-powered robot climbers. In 2012, it kept a drone flying for 48 hours straight during a beamed-power demonstration for Lockheed Martin. And in 2013, it unveiled a commercial product to transmit electrical power over fiber-optic cables.

The company says power and data transmission via optical cable could be particularly well-suited for underwater robots and sensors, as well as in high-voltage environments such as research labs and power substations, or in settings where strong magnetic fields are active, such as MRI machines. The reason? Fiber-optic transmission, unlike copper-wire transmission, is immune from electromagnetic interference.

The most obvious applications of beamed laser power are to provide the energy for drones in flight, and to bring energy to sites where it’s hard to deliver electricity over wires – for example, battlefronts, disaster areas and remote outposts. Someday, power-beaming equipment could be incorporated into space-based solar power systems.

Intellectual Ventures, based in Bellevue, Wash., recently revealed that it’s looking into the possibilities for beamed microwave power.

In addition to Nugent, a veteran of Intellectual Ventures, LaserMotive’s top executives include chief scientist Jordin Kare; board chairman Claes Olsson; David Bashford, vice president of operations; and Richard Gustafson, who’s in charge of business development and sales.

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