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UAV solutions

Tethered, aerial/ underwater vehicles

This class of unmanned vehicle is powered and controlled via a tether from a ground-based power source. High-voltage tether transmission of 500V to 800V allows for greater tether lengths and smaller cabling, enabling the drone to fly higher or travel longer distances underwater. The power delivery network (PDN) inside the vehicle must be capable of down-converting the tether’s high voltage with high efficiency and power density to not take up important payload space. Tethered drone applications typically require a 1 – 5kW ground power supply tethered to a rotor-wing UAV or UUV, and offer unlimited run time and greater control.

Tethered, aerial and underwater vehicles

The power delivery network

Using Vicor BCMs such as the BCM4414, a power solution can be created that enables optimized system performance. The BCM4414 provides 1.8kW of power for either step-up or step-down conversion at 97%+ efficiency. At the ground station, the BCM4414 isolates and steps-down the rectified output from a single or 3-phase AC supply to 48V. A second BCM4414 steps-up the 48V to 800V for transmission across the tether. A third BCM4414 is used to step-down the 800V to 48V onboard the vehicle. The use of the BCM4414 allows the power system designer to dramatically reduce the size and weight of both the ground supply and UAV, as well as to dramatically reduce the diameter and weight of the tether itself. The end result is a much more flexible and capable system that can be easily transported to the operating location.

Downstream of the BCM4414, ZVS Buck regulators offer board-level designers maximum power density and flexibility for high-efficiency point-of-load DC-DC regulation. The integration of a high-performance zero-voltage switching (ZVS) topology increases point-of-load performance, providing best-in-class power efficiency up to 98%. ZVS regulators are highly integrated with control circuitry, power semiconductors and support components in a high-density LGA System-in-Package (SiP).

Power Delivery Network for tethered aerial and underwater vehicles


Fixed ratio DC-DC converter

Input: 500 – 800V

Output: 31.3 – 50V

Current: Up to 35A

4.4 x 1.4 x 0.4in

ZVS buck family page

ZVS buck regulators

Inputs: 12V (8 – 18V), 24V (8 – 42V), 48V (30 – 60V)

Output: 2.2 – 16V 

Current: Up to 22A

Peak efficiency: Up to 98%

As small as 10.0 x 10.0 x 2.56mm  


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