The mainstream public didn’t consider drones to be much more than a toy as the Parrot AR Drone was unveiled as the first commercially available model, an iOS smartphone-controlled quadcopter, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2010. However, it hasn’t taken long for them to be used in a variety of incredible and often unbelievable ways utilising this growing technology.
Here are a few examples of how drones such as the xk detect x380 drone are becoming a standard tool in so many industries, the problems they’re built to solve, and the range of major brands utilising them to aid their needs.
From big budget to independent filmmakers, the use of drones in entertainment has added an affordable option to give greater depth into both education and storytelling. A sweeping view of a snow capped mountain range, floating like a bird above the coastline, a skyscraper view of a car chase or a superhero battle, the pursuit of a mountain biker down a hillside, or even drones filming drone racing! From live music, cultural and news events to wildlife programmes where safety is an obvious concern, these free flying camera systems are now indispensible to the industry.
The BBC have utilised drones throughout their programming. They have their own in-house team of ‘drone-journalists’. Red Bull have not only set up their own drone racing event but they are renowned for using the technology to film a whole host of extreme sports, utilising the system for unrivalled views and angles to give an extra dimension to the action.
There are too many companies to list who are using drones to make deliveries or are testing to include them as part of their service.
UPS have introduced a residential delivery drone that makes its deliveries from an electric powered van. The van also acts as a charging station to enhance the lifespan of the drone and in turn its efficiency. They are commercially operated to deliver to remote areas but in testing they were utilised to make medical deliveries to out of reach locations.
The Royal Mail, Amazon, Flytrex and DHL have all entered the market with their own testing and introduction of this technology. Even JustEat have been testing drones to make food deliveries in some of the bigger towns and cities in the US and Europe. Now that’s what I call ‘fast food’!
Construction & Architecture
In May 2017 Balfour Beatty acted on their word to investigate the use of drones by trialling them to survey two bridges in West Sussex. Not only did it greatly increase staff safety but it also made a saving of over £8,000 compared to more traditional methods.
CIO Fernando Villa who is overseeing a team of sixteen senior architects has also stated that the use of drones in filming the facility will be used for augmented and virtual reality technologies in order to process the maintenance of the 133-year-old Sagrai Famila church finally completed, although it isn’t due to be until 2026.
Telephone & Internet Technology
BT have been investigating using drone technology to provide temporary internet access in remote areas or in emergency situations. They have been researching ways to bring coverage to disaster zones, battlefields and limited access areas by introducing them to assess the situation and then creating a network through tethered drones and balloons.
Also working in the same technology are US communications brand AT&T when they recently provided a temporary internet connection to an area of forty square miles over Puerto Rico via their drone, the Flying Cow (which stands for ‘Cell on Wings’) after the hurricane Maria shut down all telecoms on the island. They also announced that they are now using drones to inspect their cell towers too.
Last September in conjunction with the German company Volocopter the Dubai Roads & Transport Agency tested their first taxi drone service with a view to launching it commercially within the next five years. The driverless drone flies two hundred meters above ground and will be able to tackle thirty-minute flights controlled by an app and GPS co-ordinates with speeds of up to 100mph.
Technology innovators Animal Dynamics have created military drones inspired by dragonflies that use a flapping wing propulsion system as opposed to the conventional rotor blades due to their quiet performance and ability to glide, saving on fuel and becoming highly efficient. Ideally suited for short-range surveillance it can operate in high winds and adverse weather conditions.
The US Military have been using drones for armed attacks since 2001 and have been featured in the media more recently with their Predator AUV (unmanned air vehicles) attacks on the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in Afghanistan. These drones are designed to carry out attacks on ground targets ranging from military bases, vehicles and high-profile individuals.
We’ve all watched the helicopter coverage on Police, Camera, Action but in 2015 Devon and Cornwall police undertook a trial using drones to help carry out some of the tasks more efficiently that your typical beat bobby would normally undertake. Searching for missing people and monitoring traffic accidents was shown to be a much more economical alternative to sending out the police helicopter service. In 2016 they created a special unit dedicated to drone use throughout the country.
Remote Repairs In Industry
Oil giants Shell has been using drone technology throughout their plants in Europe to carry out safety checks that were once hazardous and time consuming. Previously the checks were undertaken by teams of engineers having to abseil into hard to reach places to monitor for gas leaks and other faults. The use of drones now means the inspections are fast and easy and where plants were often closed for one of two days they can now remain open and functional as the checks take only a matter of hours. Fitted with standard or infrared heat cameras and various sensors a range of information can be gathered and processed from often inaccessible places such as heat towers or the underside of an oilrig platform in a fraction of the time.
Easyjet have also announced that they too have trialled safety inspections using drones and will be introducing them to UK airports in 2018. They have stated that the drones are more efficient with these checks than the human eye and want to roll them out worldwide – not only that but they also want to use drones to make runway checks in the first six months of 2018 too.
A drone has been designed to catch rhino poachers through the national parks in Africa by Spanish engineers developing the technology at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona. Its key development is in the use of thermal vision technology in its camera.
And in 2014 Coca-Cola delivered messages of thanks tied to cans of Coke to the 2,500 migrant workers building high-rise buildings in Singapore. The message was to link Singaporean nationals and the migrant workers who travel far from their countries to build the city-state’s hi-rise buildings to provide good feeling and community in places where it isn’t always natural. The campaign was called “Happiness from the Skies” and it hit the media with a message that they wanted to use a method that is often associated with death and evil, due to the drones more frequently portrayed military uses, and turn it into something peaceful and good.
…all that and more
Drones are getting smaller, bigger, faster, stronger, lighter, more reliable, and infinitely smarter with the advances in technology. This progress is giving them an almost never ending list of uses to help achieve our daily tasks and many more we haven’t thought of yet.
Where will it end? Only the future will show us that but while we’re along for the ride, we may as well do it with a selection of rotors above our heads…