Drones, also called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), are robots that can fly controlled or autonomously through software flight plans with the help of sensors or/and GPS. They’ve seen a huge rise given the conditions we’ve developed technologically and became very popular in the last years because they can complete tasks that used to be performed by helicopters and airplanes.
These tasks used to be expensive to hire and they were not always available on-demand. Drones came up to the scene presenting themselves as a good solution for a variety of challenges. They can be equipped with distant sensors, time-of-flight sensors, chemical sensors, stabilization and orientation sensors, visualization sensors, and the list just goes on. Other common features of drones are accelerometers, barometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, and GPS.
According to The Drone Market Report, this industry will grow to $43 Billion USD by 2024. If you follow the UAV world you’ll notice that every day some new use comes up and they’re certainly disrupting the robotics market. From agriculture uses to surveillance, healthcare, construction, films, journalism and more, here are some of the best use cases of Drones.
- More efficient pesticide spraying
The agricultural industry has faced many challenges over the last few years, from climate change to automatization, technology will drive the farming revolution for the future. The use of agricultural drones will allow users to gain insights in data from crops and plan accordingly to meet the demands of an ever-changing world.
A very good example of drones working to make agricultural work more productive is the DJI MG-1P Drone, made for spraying crop fields. The aircraft increases work efficiency and have the ability to pre-plan routes and control up to five of them at the same time, with a range of 3 kilometers. It also comes with an FPV camera to improve security, eight rotors with advanced propulsion and control algorithms to ensure safety -even if one rotor breaks-, and a high precision radar for positioning and navigation.
- Healthcare from a distance
In the case of healthcare, drones can support the rapid and efficient delivery of vaccines, medication supplies, support, rescue and decrease the mortality of life-threatening communicable diseases. With the support of this technology, the medical field can improve its communications and mobile technology. It can reach dangerous areas where human access is compromised.
At TU-Delft the Ambulance Drone project is looking to tackle the first critical minutes of life-threatening diseases by speeding the time of response, the technology embedded in the drone includes an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), medication and CPR. It also includes personalized instructions for people at the place where the emergency is presented, making it easier to extend the reach for the cases.
- Building inspections made easy
For construction and civil engineering, drones can be used as tools to improve communication and safety at the field. As drones capture real-time images from the construction sites, the UAV can be used to track progress, monitor security patrols, improve technical inspection, deliver key items, among other uses. The use of sensors and cameras improve and contributes to developing the projects in less time and with less human labor.
The AEROARMS project aimed to develop the first aerial robotics system with multiple arms and advanced manipulation capabilities applied in industrial inspection and maintenance. “It uses ultrasonic sensors for characterizing cracks on concrete bridges, a different type of ultrasonic transducer for thickness and corrosion measurements of metallic materials, and eddy current sensors for crack detection”.
- Improving manufacturing and supply chains
By improving their features, drones have become more specialized and sophisticated since their prime days, these developments allow to reduce costs in their manufacturing, therefore, making them easier to access by users. In the manufacturing industry drones can be used for all sorts of activities, from the discovery of source materials to handling and transporting products inside and outside the factory. They can also be used for inspection and monitoring depending on the features of the craft or could be used to perform dangerous or difficult tasks thus improving plant safety.
Flirtey is the startup that got the first license for drone delivery in the United States, beating Amazon and Google. As they state in the website “Flirtey helps businesses to unlock new markets, drive sales, pioneer instant delivery, and replace a costly and cumbersome logistics network”. Making them a good example of a drone used to improve efficiency in a supply chain.
- When reliability is the most important feature
With the market presenting a large number of options for drones, they are becoming more accessible to small and medium logistics operators. Thye can run from deliveries to in-house tasks improving efficiency in ways you can’t even imagine. You can get drones with different features and nowadays you can get top-quality ones with very good deals.
This drone is designed for durability. The RigiDrone One is inspired by cargo planes and optimized for logistics. Among its many features, we can highlight the hybrid architecture, which combines vertical take-off and landing with fixed-wing range capabilities. It also lands to deliver a package and pick-up another one or it can do a low-altitude precision drop-off at the destination. This drone can travel up to 80 kilometers with one charge and it can fly under rain, snow or winds up to 12 m/s.
- And as a bonus: A drone programmed for painting
A team of McGill Computer Science researchers published in an article called Stippling with Aerial Robot, the researchers created prints using a quadrotor flying robot. Using motion capture to measure the position of the drone and the canvas and then using programming algorithms to put in contact an inked-soaked sponge attached to the robot.
There’s no creative limit for the amazing things we can do with drones, the mentioned examples are just some of the initiatives looking to disrupt and innovate the market of UAVs. Who knows what the future will bring us with drones? Probably, a great Amazon deal.
Written by Natalia Cardona Mercado for RobotUnion