Artificial Intelligence never seems to surprise us, this is an era where planes fly themselves and all you need to do is press a button… An Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) is a name given to any vehicle which flies remotely or on its own without the presence of an actual human pilot. More popularly known as drones, they are taking the world by storm. A gadget which flies without you having to control it, it can bring you groceries from the store, watch your dog while you snooze away at work, or even better be your personal photographer. What a time to be alive!
Decades ago these amazing things were just used for target practice or decoys but with progressive tech, these machines have received major upgrades like cameras, cargo carrying capacities, longer flight duration and even weapons. Many of them are satellite guided and host a GPS function and tons of sensors which can precisely calculate every move of the drone and even keep an eye on the weather.
These drones can be as small as a few centimeters to the size of a jet plane and can fly from a few meters of radius to a thousand kilometers, guided by just a set of codes! But here’s the catch, they’ve been amongst us for the past several decades, tracing back its origin to the world wars, but only until now they’ve gained a huge prominence due to its capabilities and commercial availability, yes it means you can buy one right now with just a click but first take a look at the varied types of drones we’re dealing with:
Or simply called very small drones, as evident they can fit in the palm of your hands and trust me it can get way smaller than a centimeter as well! From flood zone surveys to a military espionage it can take on much more than its size, predicting gas leaks and manuevring constricted spaces. Moreover, it is quite the handy companion. ideaForge and Microdrones are two leading manufacturers of the tiny drone industry. They can have a single rotor or many more but accounting to their size they promise you with around 10 minutes of flight time. Such drones are mostly RTF ( ready to fly) drones, which means that they can be bought, assembled and then once powered up following a set of commands they fly on their own or can be controlled through an app on a smartphone, etc.
Essentially bigger than micro drones they are still quite compact in size to match a small RC plane. Usually they are designed with two fixed wings and glide through the air, while the other type can be the one fixed with four or more rotors which can carry a very small and light weighted camera. Small scaled drones are the ones most commonly used by the general consumer which is easy to use and much safer than larger ones. DJI , Parrot and GoPro are some of the most popular consumer based drone brands and are mostly used for photography or surveillance. These drones are known for their excellent cameras which enable them to record at a 1080p and 60fps resolution and some even flaunt 4K shooting capability. They have an average flight time of 25 minutes to an hour. Such kinds of drones are most apt for a general usage and have a great control range of up to 5 Km.
Medium Sized Drones
Now these come in the picture when you’re a professional looking for some heavy equipment. These drones can weigh over 200 kilograms (440 pounds) and are designed to replace human effort completely as compared to the smaller ones which hardly weigh over a kilogram or two. Currently Amazon, the world’s largest E-commerce portal has been working on delivering its products to your doorstep using similar drones which can sustain heavy payloads (goods or cargo) and have a longer flight time. They are used from logistics to capturing iconic scenes in a movie. To an extent they can even be used in the military and many countries are already progressing in that direction. These heavy drones are quite powerful and can have as many as 6 rotors thrusting it up into the sky. They can stay up hovering for around 6 hours on a full charge! And have their control range from 50 to an astounding 150 Km radius.
When it comes to drones of this scale, things get way more serious and official because these drones are primarily used by the military for carrying out unmanned operations and are the size of a fully functional jet which is either remotely operated or pre-programmed to carry out a certain task. Now, the whole concept of drones aren’t just the ones with multiple rotors attached, any unmanned vehicle is a drone and these drones over here are more or less like a highly advanced fighter jet which can stay up in the air for over 12 hours and fly at an altitude of 30,000ft. The military grade drone is so efficient that it can be controlled from a range of 650 kilometers and carry stern battlefield operations all by itself. May it be rescue or offense; these drones are at the top of their game.
General Atomics, Northrop Grumman, Textron and Boeing are the main companies that dominate the military drone market. Such drones require heavy permits and licenses and are not accessible by the general public but it sure is a feat in the advancement of technology.
2018 has seen a surging rise of UAV usage; agriculture and distress relief being one of the few new upgrades to its usage. With more and more powerful computers and intelligent systems they have sort of developed a mind of their own and can accomplish unfathomable tasks. However, for flying a commercial drone you do need adequate legal permissions due to rising aerial risks and flight accidents.
Most of the consumer grade drones can be purchased through a local store or any online portal like Amazon or Ebay. With leading companies like DJI, Parrot, Power Vision, 3DR, Yuneec and many more the drone game is stepping up by the day and paving its way for a drone-filled future.