Within the last few years alone, there have been lots of reports and media buzz around the use of drone technology. Although the majority of the reports centered around military models (Skyhawk, Predator, etc.), the drone definition is expanding. More interesting is the fact that we can have smaller drones capable of performing a range of functions – from search and rescue to video crop inspection to photography. ThatDroneNews.com is not only concerned with hobby drones – the ones the average consumer can acquire on a budget. But the entire drone industry as well as their numerous applications.
The definition of drones and what’s it all about?
They are commonly labeled with various names, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles UAV’s, Quadcopters, Multirotors, but these super flying machines boast of sophisticated technology and are on the verge of redefining our world and lives.
In warring robots, we are witnessing some of the most advanced technology yet. Most developed nations are getting their acts together and trying to get the best that unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have to offer.
Google earth introduced us to the concept of web mapping; UAS is set to bring mapping into every facet of our lives. Over the years, remote sensing has been expensive. That is set to change with drones. Also, drone simulation is a concept that facilitates the attainment of industry estimate, which estimates that the drone market could employ 100,000 people by 2025 and could attain a combined value of $82 billion. They are equipped with antennas and embedded with software that makes it possible to provide two-way communication for remote monitoring and control; drone definition in the making.
Where are we now and what does the future hold?
The drone market witnessed its most explosive expansion between 2013 and 2016, with increased capacities as well as reduced cost. We still see reduction in cost in 2017, as well as more efficient flight systems. This impressive growth was fueled by the fact lots of main electronic components are now available at lower prices, which, in turn, was fueled by the increasing demand for game machines and smartphones. The same electronic components that help keep our drones in the air are responsible for powering our smartphones, computers, and tablets.
There will be a massive turnaround in our lives and business. We are about to witness our 21st-century airspace becoming animated like the 2062 Jetsonian skies. More importantly, every one of us, as well as people who have interest in photography, flying or technology can be stakeholders in this revolution without having to break the bank.
What happened so far…?
Even if you are hearing or reading about drones for the very first time, there’ve been around and in use for some time. It’s important to note at this point our definition of drones aren’t tools for government to spy on citizens. Moreover, there has been a plan put in place by President Donald Trump which may give companies like Amazon and Google the freedom to deploy drones sooner rather than later for a faster and more efficient service delivery.
The announcement represents a step in the right direction for companies that have waited patiently for a time like this. Many companies have predicted that drones would be used for delivery of retail items, as well as used by entertainment companies for filming in the near future. Intel, Google, Holywood, DJI and Amazon all wanted the Obama administration to soften the rules on the use of drones, or commercial unmanned aerial vehicles. Amazon even went as far as proposing a possible future pathway in the sky, which would allow lighter drones capable of delivering packages to fly at lower altitudes.
The drone manufacturing industry boasts of big players such as Pix4D, Parrot, DJI, DroneDeploy, and GoPro. Within the past year, the drone industry developed at a faster rate – particularly in the area of strategic partnership. But why is that important? Drone companies – including software, hardware, and service providers – are working tirelessly to expand their service/product portfolio and area of expertise. This is a welcome development, as it reveals where the strategic strength of the companies lies. At the moment there seems to be enough room for everyone, but the fight for key-players as well as key-technology has been on for some time.
Even the CEO of GoPro, Nicholas Woodman, a 39-year-old billionaire revealed a new pathway for GoPro to technology executives and investors, which is to imply that it is moving to a whole new realm of presenting itself as not just a camera company. While much as been said of GoPro’s interest in media and content, a quadcopter, which is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) points to the fact this company is open to embracing new products and ideas too.
Also, when it comes to defining the commercial drone market, the mobile phone industry plays a major part. It’s possible to further enhance drones with things like extra sensors or cameras to provide aerial views and collect data that can be useful for other important analysis.
Drone definition expands by it’s applications
A wide range of individuals can access these aerial insights due to the cost efficiency of operating drones and their application. Some of the industries where the use of drones can thrive the most include land management, security, entertainment, agriculture, and so on.
Search & Rescue
This development adds a new dimension to the drone definition. Conducting a search mission using drones enhanced with thermal cameras is more cost-efficient than deploying helicopters. The Nokia Saving Lives Project did a presentation during the February 2017 UAE Drones for Good Award event held in Dubai on how it’s possible for a group of drones flying in formation to locate people efficiently in a disaster area.
It can be a daunting task for people living in remote areas to keep going to the doctor or getting a lab test. Adopting the use of drones for dropping off medical supplies or picking up blood samples for tests can prove to be extremely beneficial.
Logistics remains a crucial competitive factor for lots of companies. The drone definition in close range logistics, in particular, where they can be used to deliver and pick up items – a technology which can be combined with the existing methods of transporting goods and products. When it comes to the aspect of transporting spare parts (spare parts logistics), speed is crucial. When machines break down during production, it can lead to wastage and loss of revenue.
Agriculture and smart Farming
Drones help farmers reduce the impact of farming on the environment, leading to increased yield. It is projected that by 2050, the world will need to increase food production by 70 percent if it’s to keep feeding its increasing population. With the possibility of having less arable land, as well as possible water shortages, this is an uphill task. Drones are redefining the farming landscape. Factor in 3-D mapping technology which can be strapped on board, drones will be capable of collecting information on factors such as soil composition and field geography during the early stages of planting, which assist farmers in optimizing seed planting patterns and field configuration. Then as the crops are growing, the same drones will be responsible for collecting nitrogen level and irrigation data.
When it comes to surveying farm drainage needs or accessing construction at a site, drones are one of the most helpful modern tools. Drones can give you a great insight into what exactly needs to be done quicker than what you would have ever achieved through any on-the-ground inspection.
When it comes to drone mapping platforms, the leading three in the game are Data Mapper, Drone Deploy and Pix4D. The three platforms feature the web-based tool as well as the app. Although any of these tools should get the job done, for basic UAV mapping, we recommend that you go with the Data Mapper app. It’s easy to use, and it’s not packed with complex features, and it’s hard to put a foot wrong using it.
There’s the belief that millions are spent each year by utility companies during power lines inspection, with lots of them having to deal with inaccessible areas. This means that drones can easily be deployed in such areas. Rather than have engineers go several meters above the ground just to carry out an inspection, drones offer a viable option to get the job done without risking anyone’s life.
The renewable energy market is growing exponentially, but running costs are becoming unsustainable for the industry. Inspections, which are done manually, have to be carried out annually on wind turbines blades. Maintaining these wind turbines cost turbine owners a lot of money. Thanks to the advent of drone technology, these challenging maintenance inputs are now being turned into a more organized data collection process. Blade Maintenance Inspection Drone seems to be on the way out for a new drone definition
Drones and Cinema
The introduction of unmanned aircrafts opens doors of limitless opportunities to filmmakers. Drones with a camera can make it easier to take aerial or crane shots. Think about that lovely Julie Andrews 70mm swirling shot in The Sound of Music. These days you can effortlessly capture that using a cheap and simple rig handled by an outstanding pilot.
And now that aerial photography companies now have permission from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin using drones, it’s now more interesting to work with high-definition cameras and Hollywood studios. It is now becoming easier to take those shots that used to be tough and expensive. There’s no limit to the cinematic possibilities.
There are FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations that have been put in place to guide how drones should be used, who qualifies to use them and where they can be used. We will discuss them all in our future blog post.
Aside from business or military use, drones are now being used by individuals. That is why demand for them keeps increasing, as does the definition of drones. Laws regarding them are being amended, and they were even deployed during the 2012 Winter Olympics.
Also, the new commercial drone rules by the FAA permit a range of businesses to make use of drones that are less than 55 pounds, but with some restrictions: only a pilot who has passed a written test, and above 16 years of age can operate the drones. And one can only fly drones at an altitude less than 400 feet and should be at least five miles away from airports. Still, the move means that the vision of drone delivery is a step closer to becoming a reality.
Last year alone, over 1,200 “safety occurrences” were recorded, with several involving planes, said the commission, the EU’s civil service. Aside from moves by the Federal Aviation Administration (FFA), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) responded by publishing a proposal aimed at regulating the use of drones in Europe. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says drones are recognized as a form of aircraft, not a toy. A few restriction, however, do exist if the weight of the drone is below 20kg. You need to obtain permission from the CAA if you intend to fly for commercial purposes. You will have to prove that you are competent enough.
The proposal charts a pathway for the safe operation of drones while ensuring that the industry continues to develop. The risk posed to other aircrafts and people on the ground as well as security, data protection and privacy issues generated by such drones are also being carefully considered.
The identification of the class of the drone will be followed by the standard CE marking (from C0 to C4) as well as a leaflet containing do’s and don’ts kept in the drone box. An operator can simply refer to the drone class to know which area he can operate as well as the level of competence required.
As a rule of thumb, when you fly a drone, you are considered a pilot, and you should respect the rules. If you are unsure of where you can fly, please refer to http://www.dji.com/flysafe/geo-map