by Noel Jerke (Author)
Drones are small unmanned vehicles that we can fly for recreation or professional purposes. They may have started out mainly for military purposes, but their usage and availability is now becoming more common across several industries. Many adults, teens, and even kids save up for drones, want them as gifts on special occasions, and plan on flying them for all kinds of projects.
Drones are useful for photographers who want to take aerial pictures or cover a large event. There has been talk of Amazon and other companies making use of drones to deliver relatively light packages to customers as quickly as possible. Certain drones are used for search and rescue operations, or for providing supplies to people who are stranded or trapped due to accidents or natural disasters.
However, not everyone is happy with the escalating popularity of drones in every aspect of their lives. Some are concerned about the privacy issues that drones bring; a person with a drone is technically able to see over boundary walls, into private pools, and other places where they usually wouldn’t be allowed. If drone users have a malicious intent, they might even use their aircrafts to take incriminating pictures and videos for blackmailing or defaming purposes.
There’s also the fact that drones can be somewhat irritating, especially the models that make a loud whirring noise. There might be some relatively silent versions out there, but most drones make a noticeable noise that can disturb the people at important events. Even if you are just flying a drone at a park, the people around might feel disturbed by the noise and wary of a possible picture being taken as they’re enjoying their peaceful time. With complaints like these, drones have been subjected to many rules, restrictions and regulations.
It’s evident that the discussion on drones is still ongoing. However, it’s also clear that drones are here to stay for at least some time. They are an amazing piece of technology that also provides many professional photographers and event planners a way to enhance their services and earn a better livelihood.
Are Drones Worth It? Looking at this Tech in Detail
With all the debate surrounding drones and their usage in public or private spaces, it would help to look at the history, types, and other aspects of drones. This is what this eBook on drones strives to do.
By looking at the various ways in which drones are utilized in industries today, how drones work, and what regulations are applied on them, we should be able to come to a deeper understanding of these vehicles. This could result in a larger acceptance of drones, and even inspire a new curiosity about the ways in which they can help one achieve a better lifestyle. Let’s now see how this eBook is instrumental in catching us up on the world of drones:
Chapter 1: Who
The chapters in this eBook are divided into six questions and their detailed answers. This is why the chapter titles are simply ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘When’, ‘Where’, ‘Why’, and ‘How’. The first chapter focuses on the ‘Who’ aspect of the discussion on drones. This means classifying drones based on their applications, their wing types, and their body structures. The chapter then ends with a discussion of the largest drone companies and manufacturers.
Classifying drones based on whatever application they are used for gives rise to the following categories:
- UCAV or Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles
- Target and Decoy
- Research and Development
- Reconnaissance (further divided into close range, short, range, mod-range, and endurance vehicles
The wing types for various drones are discussed according to these categories:
- Multi-rotor drones
- Fixed-wing drones
- Single rotor helicopters
- Fixed Wing Hybrid VTOL (Vertical take-off and landing)
This particular section ends with a brief but useful summary of the pros and cons of each type of drone based on their wing types.
The last classification is that of the drone body structure. The types covered here are:
- RTF or Ready to Fly
- BNF or Bind N Fly
- ARF or Almost Ready to Fly
Finally, the discussion on the largest drone companies is also an interesting one. Boeing, GoPro, and DJI Innovations are just a few of the names mentioned. The list includes famous organizations as well as lesser-known entities that cater to high-end requirements. Mentioning such names can help potential drone users and enthusiasts to gain awareness about the brands that can provide the kind of models they need.
Chapter 2: What
This chapter covers drone terminology, the basic controls, parts, and any essential point we need to keep in mind before piloting a drone. The discussion sums up with some of the most common rules and regulations surrounding these unmanned aircrafts. Basically, the chapter is all about getting us familiar with drones in order to talk about them in the correct terms.
The first step here is listing all the most common terminology used to describe drones and their functions. The terms are laid out in a convenient alphabetized list that covers everything from ‘Axis’ to ‘Ceiling Height’ to ‘Geofencing’ and so on. Anyone who is confused about what a certain term means can easily check out this list for a quick reference.
Moving on to the basic controls of drones, the following controls are under discussion:
Learning to fly a drone is much easier when you have the names of these controls down pat.
The parts of drones are also an essential bit of knowledge for any drone owner or flier. We have to keep in mind the following:
- ESC or Electronic Speed Control
- Flight Control Board
- Radio transistor
- Batteries, cables and other electronic components
- The first person view
It’s important to note here that not every drone model will have all these parts and features. However, each of them does have a role to play and can offer better control, enhance the viewing experience, or some other benefit.
Flying a drone is not something that you can usually just start on a whim. The last parts of this chapter cover the necessity of registering drones over a certain weight, even if they are just for hobbies. The restrictions, rules, regulations, data protection precautions, and other tips are essential if we want to enjoy our drones without getting in trouble.
Chapter 3: When
We know that drones have been rowing in use and popularity, with many industries utilizing them on a regular basis. Before we can use and enjoy drones, though, it will help to look at the history of how they got to this point.
This chapter focuses on the ‘When’ of drones; what were the earliest versions, how did they develop, and what were the moments that made them so widespread? From the get go, the discussion plies us with some very surprising facts; for instance, most people wouldn’t have connected the dots from hot air balloons to modern high-speed drones. Still, these are usually the first examples of unmanned aircrafts that came about in 1783.
The chapter then goes on to cover the different important eras regarding drone development:
The mid-1850s: development of early military drones
Early 20th century: introduction of the first quadcopters
- 1915 to 1920: a rapid pace of technology
- 1930 to 1945: military drone technology sees some major advancements
- 1950 to1960: The Vietnam War
- 1970 to 1980: Israel makes use of drone technology with the help of the United States
- 1980 to 1990: Heavy investment in drone technology by the United States military
- 2001: CIA sends armed drones to Afghanistan in the War on Terror during the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks
- 2006: The first commercial drone permits are issued by the FAA
Since the drone started out as a military object, it’s only to be expected that the major wars in the past have shaped its development in a major way. Then there is the fact that technology has progressed very rapidly in the past few decades. With this in mind, it was probably only a matter of time before drones became popular to the masses, especially within the United States.
The historical timeline of the modern day drone is also an important discussion, since this helps us see how the ready to fly packaged drones we see in shops came about.
To summarize, the first RTF drone was released by Parrot, a French company. It could be controlled through Wi-Fi and a smartphone as the remote control. With the success of this drone, the market for kits for personal use came about.
In 2013, Amazon first floated the idea of having a drone delivery service. However, as of October 2021, the service hasn’t yet come into being.
There were also delays and downsides in the market for drones, such as the Lily Camera Drone Disaster in 2015. However, drones have continued to develop rapidly as the years go by, including the following landmarks:
- A solar-powered drone being successfully developed by Facebook, though not in mainstream use yet
- The start-up company Zipline launching a medical delivery service through drones
- DJI introducing the Mavic Air with a string panoramic lens
- Police departments in the US using drones with thermal imaging technology to investigate car crashes, search and rescue operations, and more
- With the coronavirus pandemic, drones have proved useful for sending medical supplies, mass disinfections, and enforcing social distancing.
Chapter 4: Where
The ‘where’ of drones deals with the places where they are being used today. Industries are now making use of this technology to enhance the efficiency of their services or operations, improve their safety, and save money in various ways.
Commercial drones help out companies by collecting:
- Thermal data
- Visual data
- LiDAR data (with special sensors that help to create 3D maps in archaeology and other industries)
- Multispectral data (helps in agriculture and for conservation of tree and plants)
- Hyperspectral data (these give data for monitoring crop health and detecting unwanted intruders in specific areas)
Some of the most major industries rely a lot on drones for collecting valuable data. This chapter first talks about how the agriculture industry, which is the backbone of many countries, has benefited from the use of drones.
These drones have allowed farmers to collect so much raw data that managing all this data has created another important business opportunity. Besides collecting thermal data of their crops and lands, farmers can also use drones to map and study the farmland and its irrigation systems. In these cases, drones can help accelerate the efficiency of the work that was otherwise considered time-consuming.
The next major industry under discussion is that of infrastructure development and maintenance. These Include large construction companies and firms. With drones, they can get easier access to aerial images and can quickly get 3D renderings of whatever they are aiming to make. Inspection is also an important factor here, as At&T now uses drones for cell tower inspection. Not only is the resulting data more accurate, but the practice saves a lot of human lives as well. Some drones are now even replacing infrastructure, as the same company has introduced a drone that can act as a replacement tower.
Delivery through drones has already been discussed in quite a bit of detail, but some readers might be surprised to know the role of this aircraft in the insurance industry. It makes sense, though, as drones can quickly inspect cases in case of a disaster or any accident. The resulting data can then be used to clear up any claims and dispatch relief to those who need it.
Other industries that use drones quite a bit now include
- Emergency services
- Warehousing and inventory management
- Real estate
- Hospitality and Tourism
- Mining and logging
- Security services
- Media, advertising, news, etc.
- Disease control
- Sports and Entertainment
- Weather Forecasting
- Airlines and airports
Finally, the eBook touches upon the most major and well-known companies that are making use of drones today. These include:
- The Shell Oil Refinery: they utilize drones for commercial inspections, especially in sports that might be difficult to reach or dangerous for a human to go into
- Amazon: While Amazon did complete its first successful drone delivery in 2016, there’s still a long way to go before the service become mainstream
- FedEx: While the CEO didn’t sound too excited about drones at first, the company has now applied for some patents on UAV technology
- BBC: The British Broadcasting Corporation understanding the value of aerial photography and has put together a team for drone journalism
- Uber: They advertised their services using lightweight drones in 2016 and might also use them for food delivery through UberEats
- EasyJet: Used drones for inspecting aircraft
- Microsoft: Drones are part of the company’s plan to enhance its public reputation as an innovative leader in tech
Other major names in this discussion include Apple, Facebook, Wal-Mart, DHL, IBM, and UPS.
Chapter 5: Why
This chapter revolves around the discussion of why one should own a drone and why people are buying them with such enthusiasm. It starts off by saying that drones are now much more affordable than before, and then moves to the features that make it a sound investment.
This discussion mostly highlights the many benefits of having a drone, especially the impressive photography, videography, and smooth footage it provides. There’s also the fact that it is possible to make money by flying drones in certain careers such as photography.
The more serious features of drones here include the educational aspects, as they can give teachers a way to deliver their lessons in a more interesting manner. Drones are also useful for helping students learn to code. The role in emergency efforts is also not a trifling one. These unmanned aircrafts can also help out farmers with crop management, enhancing one’s travels, and capturing essential sports moments.
However, the fun aspect of having a drone might be what tips the balance in their favor. It’s just a lot of fun flying a drone, racing them with others, and using it to make a mark in your social media.
The conversation on drones then shifts to their innovative progress in the past decade or so. As the book states, there seems to be a drone for a lot of purposes now. The discussion touches upon pocket-sized drones, autonomous drones, first exploration drones, and many other types. The drones are also being developed further so that they’re hardier and more able to be of use in an emergency. For instance, some drones are now equipped with anti-collision lights and expandable modules.
Speaking of such features, the last section of this chapter gives some interesting information on the features and tech in UAV today. These include:
- Radar positioning, which is good for search and rescue projects
- Obstacle detection, collision avoidance for predicting the surroundings and manoeuvring through a landscape
- Flight controllers and IMU, with Gyroscope stabilization for smooth flying
- Drone propulsion technology, which allows the aircraft to fly and hover in all directions
There are several other features discussed in this eBook as well. It’s worth checking all of them out in order to get a proper idea of just what drones could offer us right now.
Chapter 6: How
The final chapter of this eBook deals with a lot of ‘how’s’ that might have popped into many people’s minds when they think about drones. It covers how drones work, how one can fly a drone, how to get certified as a drone pilot, how to choose a drone, how to take care of a drone, and how to travel with a drone. The final two sections deal with how drones are vulnerable to hacking and security tips to prevent that from happening.
The working of drones is fairly straightforward. The book takes us through the basic steps–connectivity, lift off, rotating, moving forwards or backwards, etc. There are also some valuable details for beginner drone pilots/flyers. Flying a drone should start with some pre-flight checks and precautions for complete safety. Practicing the right techniques is also essential so that one doesn’t make any untoward movements and crash the drone or damage other property.
For those interested in getting an FAA-certification as a drone pilot, the relevant section here should be very useful. Along with understanding the rules and regulations, one should also make sure that they are eligible for such certification.
Choosing the right drone involves knowing your own skill level, the features you require, quality, affordability, and a whole lot more.
Drone care is also a major step in owning a drone, as the structure can deteriorate or get damaged quickly if neglected. The flight planning is the first step, which includes checking the weather forecast and making sure all firmware is updated on the remote along with the drone. Cleaning the drone body, taking care of the batteries, considering a safe, checking the propellers, and having the right tools are just a part of regular drone care.
Many people might want to travel with their drone, which makes sense if they want to take amazing aerial pictures or just have fun flying it in open spaces. The precautions to take here include:
- Choose a lightweight and compact model
- Read up on the laws regarding drone in your destination
- Take special care of the batteries (see excerpt below)
- Research the requirements for going through customs with a drone
You need to be transit smart when taking your drone with you on the plane. Drone batteries should always be packed in your carry-on luggage. Some airlines also instruct that the battery’s terminal points must be covered to avoid any kind of mishap. The best thing you can do is tape them or bring a fireproof case for the batteries to prevent them from touching other metal objects in your luggage.
Lastly, we get valuable information on how drones can be hacked if we don’t take the proper precautions. GPS Spoofing is the mostly likely procedure for hacking, which involves feeding the drone false coordinates. The hacker might do this to steal the drone and its load, or just crash it for their own enjoyment.
To avoid such situations, here are the following recommended precautions:
- Regular updating of the drone’s software
- Make your password strong
- Secure the controller or smartphone connect to the drone
- Use a VPN
- Set limits for the devices that can control the drone
- Change the username and password of your Wi-Fi router from the default ones
Drones are fast becoming an essential aspect of our lives; they’re present in almost every industry and perform major roles with great accuracy. This eBook is instrumental in helping people understand drones and their usage better while also realizing the work it takes to have your own drone.