Category Archives for "Drone Research"

Why learn about drones and UAV now?

SteadiDrone Mavrik
SteadiDrone Mavrik

SteadiDrone Mavrik

Some people may be hesitating and asking themselves “Why learn about drones and UAV now?”  For those already involved in the industry the answer will be obvious, but if you’re new to it or if you have two or more career options under consideration then you may need some more convincing.

Take a look at the graph below.  This illustrates the growth in popularity of the search term over time relative to other search terms.  The drone industry is growing rapidly and now is an excellent time to become part of it.  Now is the time to catch the wave.

As the technology develops so do the areas of specialisation.  Stop anyone in the street and ask them what they think drones do and they’ll probably assume that their all fitted with conventional cameras that record still and video images, but UAV are increasingly being used for a variety of other purposes.  The payloads attached to quadcopters, fixed wing UAV, and multirotor craft are also being developed along with the aircraft themselves.

All the businesses and industries associated with UAV, directly or indirectly, should start planning for the opportunities that this growth is creating.  As an individual, you might want to think about the areas in which you might specialise.

For example:

  • Flying drones as a Remote Pilot
  • Software Development
  • UAV design, building, and testing
  • Data Analysis
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Businesses: aerial photography, 3D mapping, thermal inspection etc.

Not everyone will want to run their own business and if you’re looking for employment then make sure your overall knowledge is sound and up to date while specialising in one or more areas.  Keep abreast of the changes and developments by following not just the market leaders but also the up and coming small companies who have something new to offer.

There may be two people working on one product in the drone and UAV sector now who will be household names in five years time.  Could that be you?

Why shouldn’t it be you?  The field is open and the opportunities are there for those willing to take the leap of faith.

What are drones used for?

commercial uses of drones

UAS can be of great benefit in agriculture

If you ask the question ‘What are drones used for?’ the first use that usually springs to mind is aerial photography, but this is just one of a growing number of ways in which UAV can work for us.  UAV are by definition aircraft and it is the payload that these aircraft carry that determines how they can be used.  It is the fact that the payload can be changed to suit the task that makes them so versatile.  They are the right tool for the job when it comes to the dull, dirty, or dangerous work, but they are also very useful artists, researchers, journalists and many other professionals.

Aerial Photography – Aerial photography is by far the most popular use of UAV and it can involve a small, hobby drone taking snapshots in the local park, heavy octocopters taking stills for stock images, to MALE or HALE UAV flying over land and oceans.

HD Video Cinematography – Larger, heavier UAV (hexacopters and octocopters) carry larger and heavier payloads, and in the case of cameras that means better quality.  If you want to record film footage suitable for TV broadcast or films then you’ll be using of these.

Inspections Surveys – Factory and residential roofs, plant infrastructure, chimneys (commercial and domestic) – the list goes on.  If you want to see what’s up there and don’t want to go to the time, effort, and expense of putting up scaffolding, then send up a drone.

LIDAR – Light Detection and Ranging.  Data is collected using aircraft (manned or unmanned) and that data is then used by scientists and mapping companies to more accurately chart shorelines, elevations, and other natural or man made structures.

3D Modeling – of buildings, structures, landscapes etc.

Photogrammetry – using aerial photography to determine exact distance measurements

Journalism – filming and photography to capture local, regional, national, and international news

Construction & Architecture – using drones to inspect and monitor building projects

Estate Agents – aerial photos and videos give a marketing advantage to estate agents

Tourist Destinations – showcase a tourist destination, holiday property rental, or resort area using an aerial tour

Advertising & Marketing – there are too many products and services to list, but aerial filming is used to great effect

360ºPanoramas – take a series of photos to stitch together, or just film as the drone slowly rotates

Orthomosaics – create accurate top-down views of locations with aerial photography and processing software

NIR NDVI – monitor crops and flora, typically with fixed wing drones

Thermography – inspect rooftops, piping, and solar panels with thermal imaging cameras

Police – look for fleeing criminals with thermal imaging, photograph crimes scenes from the air

SAR – search for missing persons, livestock, or pets with real time video or thermal imaging cameras

Magnetometry – carry out geophysical surveys, collect data for processing

Live HD Broadcasting – with a suitably large multirotor and ancillary equipment on the ground you can steam live footage of news, sports, and events.

Marine – filming boats and yachts, or dispatching lifebelts to swimmers in trouble, both at sea or just offshore

Other – what have we missed?  Tell us in the comments section below.

January 7, 2014

Welcome to the Age of Drones

Age of Drones
commercial uses of drones

UAS can be of great benefit in agriculture

In case you’ve been asleep for the past couple of years you may have noticed that we’ve entered the Age of Drones.  Where once they were used exclusively by the military for reconnaissance and attack we have now reached the point at which the technology has advanced and reduced in both size and cost to such an extent that the commercial world is now very interested.

Towards the end of 2013 news bulletins announced that the online retailer Amazon was researching the use of drones for delivering small packages and on December 30th an article appeared on the BBC’s website which described the announcement by the US Aviation Regulator that six US states will host sites where commercial drones can be tested in preparation for their use in the skies over the USA.  The states in question are Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia.  These will be coordinated tests to determine the viability of operating drones in a variety of environments both urban and rural.

As the article goes on to point out it is law enforcement and agriculture that are likely to make the most use of drones at first. We’ve already seen examples of both, including wine growers using drones to monitor the conditions of grapes in their vineyards, saving both time and effort in the process.  The same method can be used by any farmer with vast acres of land to monitor and manage whatever the type of farm.  When one considers the number of ways in which a camera, microphone, and other sensors mounted on a drone could be used there is no end to the possibilities.

Now that the platforms exist we really have entered the Age of the Drones.