Not Just A Drone, But A UAV (You’ll Never Look at your Drone the Same Way Again)

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What do you see when you see your drone? A remote-controlled toy? A flying camera? Maybe your business’ best friend. And speaking of business, if you were to take a closer look at what drones are really used for these days, you just might regard your drone with an ounce or two more of respect and admiration.

You see, your drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV, and whether it’s a “simple” Spark or a professional Phantom Pro, it belongs to the same class of machines that have revolutionised entire industries, including warfare. discusses what goes into the technology that makes drones the wonder-machines they are, singling out DJI’s Phantom as an embodiment of advanced UAV tech. The components that most drones in use today have in common include:

  • Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL)
  • Global Navigational Satellite Systems (GNSS)
  • Gyro Stabilisation
  • Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)
  • Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC)
  • Onscreen Real-Time Flight Parameters
  • “No Fly Zone” technology
  • Internal Compass
  • First Person View (FPV) Live Video transmission
  • Gimbals and Tilt Control

Where such technology used to be prohibitively expensive for industrial use, cutting-edge drone technology from industry leaders like DJI has enabled more people to use UAVs in a growing number of ways. Drones offer increased accessibility and enhanced efficiency and productivity, helping business owners cut down on manpower, workload and operational costs.


Doing Business with Drones

Now, let’s take a quick, drone’s-eye view of where UAVs are used, and zoom in on a few of the many, awesome uses for UAVs across industries.

1. Media and Entertainment

Probably the most obvious use for drones is their ability to take stunning aerial shots and live footage for movies and videos (or just for art’s sake). This is especially helpful for news crews belonging to smaller media companies covering an event in tight places that a helicopter would have difficulty reaching or landing in. UAVs also cover live events like concerts, sports, festivals and rallies like hardly anything else can.

2. Engineering and Construction

In a world where hundreds of workers and thousands of hours are spent making mega-structures across vast tracts of land, drones are fast becoming indispensable for conducting automated safety checks of construction sites. These UAVs are able to monitor a project’s progress, generate site maps and 3-D models, inspect and measure roofs, oil pipelines, bridges and transmission cables, as well as track stockpile usage.

3. Agriculture

Drones can help out on the farm in a variety of ways, including mapping out and analysing arable land and irrigation systems. UAVs take crop inventories and help farmers identify failing crops early on, as well as keep an eye on livestock. Farmers can likewise equip their drones with sprayers for water, fertiliser or pesticides.

4. Science and Environmental Conservation

Just like drones in agriculture, UAVs used for environmental research purposes are used to track and monitor species populations and observe animals in their natural habitat without disturbing them. UAVs can transmit data on plant life and the impact of floods and other natural disasters, and give geologists and other scientists access to dangerous places such as canyons and volcanoes.

5. Law Enforcement

Police forces around the world look to UAVs to provide surveillance and monitoring from vantage points that aren’t as readily accessible by typical police officers. These UAVs can reconstruct traffic accidents, help identify and locate suspects (particularly those involved in shootings), search for missing people, and analyse crime scenes. Police work drones equipped with thermal cameras can even help with search and rescue missions.

6. Transportation

Airline companies are using drones to inspect planes before a flight, while train companies use them to inspect and maintain the tracks, as well as to monitor field workers. And just like in law enforcement, UAVs are also proving useful for tracking traffic conditions for motorists in real time.

7. Delivery Services

Shipping companies such as Amazon, DHL and UPS are looking at drones for making deliveries, even though most drones so far can only carry about 25 kg (including itself). This will make it much easier to make deliveries to places that are difficult to drive to such as heavily forested or mountainous areas. Food delivery services are also considering UAVs as alternatives to the usual motorcycle deliveries.

8. Military Applications

With “cooler”, more “military-sounding” names like “remote-piloted aircraft” or RPAs, drones in the military are equipped with weapons and sent into hostile, hard-to-reach areas—greatly reducing loss of life and resources. UAVs can also be equipped with the likes of tear gas for crowd control, with infrared cameras and weather-monitoring equipment for reconnaissance, and, just like delivery service drones, a claw-like apparatus for delivering supplies to troops on the ground.


The Not-So-Faraway Future

Because of their delivery capabilities, it’s not too far-fetched to imagine your next pizza dropped on your doorstep via drone. In such a UAV-powered utopia, businesses are also looking at drones working in still other industries such as emergency services, where a drone can drop medical supplies such as medicines, bandages or even defibrillators or blood.

Many companies are already working with drone developers on incorporating UAVs into their business, just like how Microsoft has partnered up with DJI to come up with drone-controlling software. In Australia, Google’s parent company has been testing out drones for delivering food and pharmaceuticals. Facebook has also been reported to consider using drones for providing internet access in developing countries.

Today’s UAVs are said to belong to the 5th and 6th generation of drone technology, as defines them. This means that current drones are already suitable for commercial use with designs based on safety and regulatory standards, automated safety features, full autonomy and other capabilities.

But as drone development moves toward Generation 7, we’re going to see a lot more businesses take full advantage of features like platform & payload interchangeability, enhanced intelligent piloting models, full airspace awareness and automated actions. This means, in turn, that the sky is literally the limit for commercial applications.

With all this in mind, how can anyone look at their drone and not think of the possibilities? If you possess a drone and an entrepreneurial spirit, head on over to any of our D1 stores and let your imagination take flight. Who knows, you and your UAV might just be the next big business venture.