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April 1, 2017

Drone simulators to expand your real world flying skills

Drone simulators are an excellent way of improving your flying skills in a number of areas. With practice you could learn to manoeuvre a drone through an awkward spot smoothly, produce more detailed aerial photographs, or gather more precise reconnaissance.

These sims are also a great choice if you are relatively new to the world of UAV piloting and are considering a more expensive quad-copter. High-end drones are never cheap, but you can get in plenty of practice hours with an immersive UAV simulator before you even un-box a new gadget.

Drone flight simulators are compatible with Macs as well as PCs, and are also available as FPV (first person view) simulators. Although it’s not as intense as a visit to a multi-rotor flight school, the training you’ll receive on a simulator can cover every aspect of drone flight.

The right software can help you build upon your existing flying skills, but also provide lessons on capturing great video footage. You’ll learn more about controlling the gimbal and then practice these techniques in a number of different environments, without the risk of losing or damaging your drone.

Take a look at the various simulation packages on offer, then you can decide which one would work best for you.

The droneSim Pro

DroneSim Pro Drone SimulatorsThis is a great choice for people who want an affordable solution, but don’t want to compromise on the quality of their experience. The droneSim model was created using data drawn from real world physics; when the motor behaves in a certain way in-game, it’s reflecting the way a real aircraft would perform in the same circumstances.

That means in terms of responsiveness and handling, you’re getting as close to the real thing as possible. Better still you can train when it suits you, no need to check for the right weather conditions or worry about a low battery, the simulator is ready when you are, 24 hours a day.

The team behind the simulator can also tailor-make any number of scenarios to help you practice for a specific event or job. Whether you need experience with flying in industrial areas, or you’ll be capturing a wedding day, or you’re involved with the entertainment industry, the droneSim Pro package can deliver a realistic simulation.

FPV Event Personal Edition drone software

When you’re flying with FPV Event, each drone is uniquely rendered with its own type of flight controls and attributes. You can also create a bespoke drone by adjusting the settings; this could be to replicate the drone you fly for work or in your spare time, or to learn more about the characteristics of another quad-copter before you commit to buying it.

FPV Event have added an element of competition to their simulator with a pilot rankings leader board, this not only informs you of your progress in comparison to other pilots, but suggests events and qualifiers based on your changing skill level.

The drone simulation software from FPV Event Personal Edition uses a 3D game engine and so needs quite a substantial machine to work optimally. For the smoothest flights and seamless visuals, the minimum PC spec should be Windows 7, 4GB Ram, an Intel i5 dual CPU and a NVidia 750 Ti standard graphics card, as well as a solid internet connection.

The Real Drone Simulator

This drone simulator is still in pre-alpha testing, but an early version has recently been published and reached an impressive total of 3000 downloads. It’s a free flight sim that was designed to both educate and entertain. Users can receive training in any number of different drones, without having to invest a penny – because the software is completely free.

When released as a full version the game will be centred on each player’s career, you will perform tasks which enable you to earn virtual cash, and then use it to buy a better model for your next flight. You’ll also need to pay for the upkeep of each aircraft you own by purchasing new parts and keeping it well-maintained. They have teamed up with JJRC and EMAX, so you’ll be able to test their drones in game, but more manufacturers will soon be added as the company grows.

If you often fly a drone with other users, the split screen version of this simulator could be worth a trial run, along with the online multi player mode.

VelociDrone FPV Racing Simulator

Aimed mainly at the FPV racing crowd, the VelociDrone is a fast moving simulator which can be played alone or as a multiplayer game. It features a range of tracks, each with its own set of obstacles to overcome, not all of which are static.

You can fine tune your skills as a pilot amongst other players, or choose to test yourself with their Time Attack mode. Here you race against yourself and try to beat your personal best.

RealFlight Drone Simulators

Drone Simulators - Realflight Drone Flight SimulatorRealFlight is one of the more impressive drone simulators and comes complete with a controller so you don’t need to worry about compatibility with your existing set up.

This is the ideal option for UAV pilots who are serious about improving their skills and getting in more hours of flight practice. It can help you get better results with a camera, teach you to manoeuvre like a pro and give tips on using a gimbal correctly.

Many types of drone can be tested and there are challenges to keep your levels of interest up. To enhance your ability in different conditions, you can preset any simulation to feature a specific time of day and wind speed.

More information/buy: Great Planes RealFlight GPMZ4800 RealFlight Drone

UAV Pilots – What to Do When Confronted by Angry Bystanders

There are an increasing number of reports of UAV pilots being attacked by angry members of the public. Some are verbally harassed, others lose their vehicles to shotgun blasts, and still others are outright assaulted. Unfortunately, it’s not much of a surprise that the public opinion of UAVs is negative. The media spotlight seems to shine exclusively on the small number of pilots who misuse their craft — and feeds into the growing paranoia that UAVs exist for the sole purpose of spying.

If you’re unlucky enough to be cornered by an irate bystander while flying, here are some steps you can take to defuse the situation.

Keep Calm

Start by asking the person to wait a moment while you land your craft. If they give you push back on landing, let them know that if the UAV were to collide with a person it could do serious harm. Once you’ve landed your vehicle, take time to listen to their concerns. Avoid escalating the situation by responding in a calm and collected manner. If you are being yelled at, you can gently make the person aware of how confrontational they’re being by stating, “You seem really angry about this.” This can help to calm them down as many people get lost in the moment and don’t realize they are being aggressive.

Explain what you’re doing and why you’re there. If you’re there for professional reasons, tell them. If you’re there as a hobbyist, explain why you fly UAVs and why you chose that area to fly.

Protect Yourself

Know the law. The FAA has a few important guidelines for hobby pilots, and it’s extremely important to follow them. You won’t be doing yourself or anyone else any favors by breaking the rules. While we don’t have definitive word when it will be put into action, the FAA is currently working on implementing a registration system for UAVs. Once the system is in place, it’s important to register all of your craft. This registration is expected to be simple and free, so there’s no need to pay a third party company to do it for you.

but those will rarely come up when confronted by the public. People are far more likely to reference privacy laws that simply don’t exist. The cold hard fact is that there is no expectation of privacy in public places. If you’re filming in a public place, you’re safe. Furthermore, as much as people would like to consider their fenced yards private areas, they are not. If they were, services like Google Earth wouldn’t exist. Like it or not, it is perfectly legal to fly a UAV over someone’s back yard.

However, whatever the law may be, people are bound to get riled up if they think their privacy is being infringed upon. That’s why it’s a good idea to wear a head-mounted GoPro and keep it recording as you fly. You never know when situations might turn violent, and having footage of the altercation as evidence will help when pressing charges.

Be Courteous

While there isn’t any expectation of privacy in public places, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a considerate member of the community. If the noise of your UAV is disrupting someone’s peace and quiet, consider flying it elsewhere. If you’re looking to get stunning aerial views of beaches or hiking trails, try to do it when such areas are the least crowded. And if someone doesn’t want to be filmed, don’t film them.

Be an Ambassador

There’s no doubt about it, UAVs are cool. If you’ve defused the situation to the point of civil conversation, offer to show the person how UAVs work — what they can and can’t do, flight paths, etc. Since so much of the controversy around UAVs has to do with perceived spying ability, explain how the cameras on even the highest end UAVs are only equipped with an ultra wide angle lens and have no ability to zoom. This makes them a poor choice for spying — a DSLR camera with a telephoto lens would be far better (and cheaper).

Since many fear what they don’t understand, educating people about what is and isn’t possible is key. Most people who find out what UAVs are really capable of find a new appreciation for these fantastic little pieces of technology. By explaining the why and how behind your craft, you may help create another fan — and the more UAV enthusiasts there are, the more innovation we’ll see in their future development.

It’s not pleasant being constantly on guard when flying in public, but until the average Joe knows more about UAVs, it’s just going to be a way of life. As long as you’re prepared to handle each situation in a calm and collected manner, things should (hopefully) go swimmingly.

Fixed Wing UAV

For many, the word ‘drones’ conjures up images of camera equipped quadcopters. Yet there are many fixed wing UAV in use today and more are entering the market.

 

Fixed wing UAV fly using the same principles as conventional manned aeroplane. They consist of an airframe with wings and have an single engine.

The rear or aft mounted engine spins a propeller that generates thrust. Thrust ‘pushes’ or ‘pulls’ the drone through the air and airflow over the wings produces lift.

Control surfaces in the wings enable control in the lateral, vertical, and horizontal axis. The Remote Pilot has full control in each axis and can pitch, roll, or yaw the plane.

One of the biggest advantages of fixed wing UAV is their simplicity. A conventional quadcopter has four rotors but a fixed wing drone has only. The airframe and other components less complicated making them easier to maintain and repair.

Fixed Wing UAV Agriculture

Fixed wing UAV flying over fields collect data for a variety of purposes.

The essential task of a drone is to collect data. This can then be analysed and processed to produce all kinds of reports. These can then help to provide a clear picture of a given area in a specific time window.

Most UAV take pictures and record video with a conventional digital camera. This is their most common task, but it’s just one of many ways in which they can help us.

NDVI ([easyazon_link identifier=”B00FSAE206″ locale=”UK” tag=”droneuav-21″]Normalized Difference Vegetation Index[/easyazon_link]) sensors collect data. This is not only of use to the farmer, but it can also be shared with other interested bodies.

[easyazon_infoblock align=”right” identifier=”1482299151″ locale=”UK” tag=”droneuav-21″]Drones can map weeds within crops making it it easier to find them and treat them with sprays.

If the UAV can reveal the exact location of the weeds then they can spray just those specific areas.

This saves both time and money and it’s also better for the environment.

UAV can check the environment by collecting air samples. These can then be analysed for the effects of pollution.

Their infra red cameras can count mammals, both wildlife and livestock.

They can track the effects of farming, mining, and other human activity. They can create 3D models of civil engineering projects, construction sites, and topological features.

Farmers and other surveyors are usually busy people who don’t want to have to build a tool themselves. They want functional, easy to maintain, and ready to use equipment.

That’s what fixed wing UAV designers keep mind when designing and building their drones.

Price is not always the deciding factor. If the drone does its job and can prove a return in investment then it’s worth the capital expenditure.

The market for fixed wing UAV looks set to continue thanks to improvements in software. Cloud technology and engineering are helping things along too.

All this means that there is a need for more training for Remote Pilots.

Perhaps it’s time you added to your skillset to take advantage of the growing demand.

Online Training. Learn at home or in the office at your own pace: UAV Drones: Precision Agriculture. An advanced guide how to use an UAV drone for vegetation index and crop analysis.