An unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system; which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), colloquially known as drones, are reinventing old businesses and even creating brand new opportunities. Whether it’s innovation in media coverage and filmmaking or new capabilities for emergency responders, drones are capable of some pretty incredible things.
So far, people have used drones largely in video and photography, especially for marketing purposes, but there are many other applications of UAV technology that might surprise you. From agriculture to internet access, drones are a multipurpose tool that offers the potential to reimagine some of the most critical ways humanity operates.
Farmers can benefit from drones in several ways. In fact, many in the UAV industry cite agriculture as an enormous area of opportunity for drone technology. Not only can drones save farmers money by helping them identify failing plants early and take inventory of crops, but the machines can also be used to map and study the farmland and its irrigation systems. In each of these cases, utilizing drones helps expedite what are otherwise time-consuming projects.
“The drone is just the school bus. What’s important is the sensor capturing data and [the] software that’s really forming that data-analytics piece and hoping to extrapolate the useful information out of that,” Opp said.
In addition, drones can be equipped to spray pesticides, fertilizers or water on crops. Each UAV is like a far cheaper mini-crop duster. And for farms with livestock, drones can also be used to monitor the animals and quickly gather and track useful data about animal health and population.
Architecture and construction
Architectural firms and construction contractors are also benefitting from the use of drones. Much like professionals in real estate, architects can use images and footage of a property to create 3D renderings of the structures they aim to build.
By cheaply and quickly creating aerial shots on which to place an architectural rendering, architects can create real-world concepts of their projects. This ability is indispensable to creating accurate designs and understanding how they fit within properties.
Access to these plans during the construction project is also useful to the people actually bringing the design to life.
Drone-based delivery services probably constitute one of the most obvious applications.
While still restricted to a pretty low maximum load-bearing weight (55 pounds including the drone itself), delivery-by-drone is yet another promising application. Some have questioned the feasibility of Jeff Bezos’ planned Amazon Prime Air, but the promise of goods delivered direct to your door by drone will only become more real as the technology continues to evolve and its capabilities expand.
This is especially true for areas where traveling by road is difficult or treacherous.
Drones-as-a-Service is a unique concept pioneered by the company Measure. The company aims to reduce the risks and costs associated with using drones for business by providing “turnkey drone solutions” to entrepreneurs and enterprises of all stripes.
“Measure was founded specifically to help customers avoid the capital expense and operating risks of establishing their own drone programs and to purchase drone support in a way which better fits their operations and cost profiles,” Brandon Torres Declet, CEO & Co-Founder, said in a statement. “In a market largely comprised of manufacturers, Measure is the model for how drone services will develop and grow in the future.”
Using drones for emergency response services, particularly when it comes to medical needs, presents new opportunities for life-saving measures. Using drones to get eyes on a difficult situation, or to deliver medical supplies to stranded victims, could enchance the ability of emergency response physicians to offer care in difficult situations.
“Drones have been used for awhile to get eyes on disaster scenes fast, so we thought, ‘Why not integrate medical intervention as well?” Dr. Italo Subbarao, senior associate dean at William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine, told NBC News. “Why can’t we use drones to deliver telemedical packages? Not just bandages and blood, or even a defibrillator, but on-site medical expertise, to give people on the scene a real medical intervention capability?”
Engineering firms are also utilizing drones on in-depth projects like oil pipelines, transmission cables and maintenance inspections.
“Engineering firms are a common profession that has applications all over the place,” Opp said. “Engineering firms are involved in things like road construction and maintenance, airport planning, and infrastructure projects. When they look at performing surveying work, use of drones and sensors can expedite their work in significant ways, increasing efficiency.”
Environmental monitoring and conservation
Much like how farmers use drones to monitor crops and animals, the technology can be utilized to keep tabs on ecological environments. UAVs are discrete and can monitor animal populations without disturbing them. This type of monitoring offers important insights into conservation efforts, migration tracking, habitat management and flood assessment, which is particularly useful on the coasts.
Drones also provide data on the health of vegetative and animal populations, and the technology offers a unique ability to identify species in hard to reach places.
Another obvious use for drones is in media coverage. Previously, aerial shots were available only to large news corporations that could afford a news helicopter. Now, local journalists and small-scale media outlets can easily capture aerial footage for news coverage.
In addition, drones can get into tighter areas, lower to the ground than a news helicopter could ever hope to travel. Even simple tasks, like recording a face-to-face interview, can easily be made more dynamic and engaging with a camera-equipped drone hovering nearby.
Of course, with new technologies means the need for education and training. Companies like DARTdrones train people not only on how to fly UAVs but also educate them around FAA regulations and specific use cases.
“We employ 45 flight instructors and offer 30+ custom training programs in 40+ cities across the United States,” John Speicher, marketing coordinator at DARTdrones, said. “We have trained over 5,400 pilots ranging from hobbyists and drone entrepreneurs to government agencies, public safety departments, and other large companies. Our experienced pilots have trained people to use drones in numerous industries such as insurance, photography, construction, police, fire, rescue, inspections, agriculture and many more.”
Wireless internet access
Another application for drones, one that received much media attention when Facebook purchased solar-drone company Titan Aerospace, is the use of UAVs for internet connectivity. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s proposed plan is to bring internet access to the developing world with the Aquila drone, which just completed a successful test flight.
Google and Amazon are examples of other large corporations that have also invested in the drone industry. Zuckerberg released a statement illustrating just how promising drone technology is when it comes to expanding internet access worldwide.
“Eventually, our goal is to have a fleet of Aquilas flying together at 60,000 feet [18 kilometers], communicating with each other with lasers and staying aloft for months at a time — something that’s never been done before,” Zuckerberg said.
Other areas will include Real Estate; Real Estate / Property Photos and Video, Residential Real Estate Marketing, Commercial Real Estate Marketing, 360 Area Shots. Videography and Photography; Home movies, Kids sporting events, Weddings, Golf Course, Promotional Videos for Products / Services, 360 Panoramas, Tourism Aerial landmark flyby, News, Sports Event Coverage, Live Event Coverage, Concerts, Traffic Reporting, Aerial cinematography for movies, Action/sports, Documentary / Expedition. Disaster Response; Search and Rescue, Marine Search and Rescue, Wildfire, Flooding, Damage assessment, Rapid response, Emergency Uses, Surf Lifesaving (floation delivery), Fire Detection (e.g. fire towers).
Another is City and Government; Police surveillance, Border Patrol / Detection, Drug Enforcement, Grow-op Detection, Forestry and Fire Protection, Highway Patrol and Enforcement, Bridge Inspection, Asset Management, Military Uses. Education; University Science and Technology Studies, Aeronautical Engineering and Studies, Software Development Studies Courses, Industrial Engineering Studies Courses, Robotics Studies and Engineering, 3D Printing and Technology Studies Courses.
In order to qualify as a serious tool, a drone must be adapted and integrated with sensors, hardware, software, workflow, training and support.
Drone Key Features:
Camera Resolution: 20 megapixels
Video Resolution: 4K 10-bit HDR Video
Max flight time: 31-minutes
Max speed: 45 mph (72 kph) in sport mode
Notable attributes: foldable/portable, intelligent flight modes, obstacle sensing
Two Extra Batteries
Two Pairs of Propellers
Battery to Power Bank Adapter