What are drones used for? They are autonomous aerial vehicles (or UAVs) that have a range of uses. They can be used for surveillance, farming, pest control and photography. They can also be used to carry food and other goods to remote regions, such as in earthquake-prone areas or over water.
The United States military has experimented with using small UAVs to monitor enemy troop positions. In this manner, they can detect the locations of enemy troop positions, perhaps allowing military forces to reorganize or withdraw from an area quickly. They are currently using drones to monitor the integrity of natural gas pipelines. As the technology and applications of UAVs expand, so too will the number of sectors where they are being used.
One of the first industries to discover the potential of drones in their lineup was the agriculture industry. Farmers want to make sure their fields remain free of unwanted pests and that their crops are not damaged by ice or frost. Thanks to the sensing abilities of UAVs, farmers can now send out real-time information on soil moisture levels, so that they can plan accordingly for crop production. They can also use these same tools to prevent frost related damage to their crops or to check for the presence of dangerous fire-fighting chemicals. By using drones for soil moisture monitoring, farmers can save significant amounts of money on heating and cooling costs, which, in turn, could lead to more efficient operations.
Another sector that is seeing the value of using drones for a variety of purposes is the tourism industry. Surveys have shown that drone photography is rapidly becoming a popular aspect of the tourism industry. This is because drone photography allows for detailed observation of outdoor scenes, such as the monuments and landscapes in a particular region. Drones offer the perfect window to provide a closer look at species that are native to a given area, such as birds or butterflies. These types of close-up images are crucial when trying to determine breeding patterns, migration routes, or the best time to plant and grow flowers.
Wildlife populations are also being monitored by drones used in conservation programs. Because drones can fly at altitudes of over 50 feet, they are able to provide a closer view of animals that are threatened with extinction. Drones are even being used to spot endangered species in areas where endangered animals have been extinct for decades.
In terms of national security, there is no end in sight as drone flights become more prevalent. The U.S. military has been conducting military operations in Afghanistan using remotely piloted planes and robots. The British Royal Air Force operates a number of Reaper drones in Afghanistan, as well as a handful of unarmed remote control combat vehicles. The French and Australian Air Force also operate some form of remotely piloted aircraft.
While traditional aerial vehicles have been outdated for several years, drone technology continues to evolve. For example, the reliability of the controls continues to improve, which allows drones to stay on flight for longer periods of time. Also, the distance that can be covered using a remote control flight is expanding. There are now drones that can fly for miles from a sitting position, as well as those that can reconfigure themselves to follow a moving vehicle or person.
Surveying, monitoring, locating, and identifying all of these animals and objects is only the beginning for drone technology. As the uses for this versatile aerial vehicle continue to expand, so too will the variety of industries that will use these aerial crafts in the coming years. Drones may even be seen in more high-tech spy movies, though it’s probably not too near the top of your list of what you’d like to see in one.