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Drones have been around for a while, they are Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAV’s) that carry no crew or passengers. As with many technologies, they started life in the military.
The first drones were built during the first World War. These were launched by catapult or flown using radio controls but were never really fully developed due to the war ending. During the 1930’s both the British and the Americans were using drones for training and target practice.
During the Vietnam War, the role of the drone changed and diversified. They were now being used for reconnaissance, as decoys, for launching missiles against fixed targets and dropping propaganda leaflets for Psychological Operations.
After the Vietnam War, many other countries started to develop and research UAV technology. Many developments improved on their predecessors in terms of flight time, durability and usage.
Whilst drones have been regularly used in warfare until today, they have begun to carve out niches in many other areas of life.
The advantage of using drones is that it can often be difficult, expensive or risky to get a manned flight to do certain jobs or go to certain places. Drones offer a cheaper alternative and are often loaded with job specific gadgets including cameras, GPS and sensors to monitor its surroundings.
These drones can gather extensive amounts of data from previously inaccessible areas, reducing the need for people to put themselves in danger on risky projects. They are best suited to people working in large areas of land or working on large construction projects.
It is predicted that drone technology could also help create jobs in the future, a recent prediction by the trade group Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, predicts that there will be more than 100,000 new jobs in unmanned aircraft by 2025. If drones are able to create these sorts of jobs, it will be quite beneficial for engineers to begin learning how to operate them as well as how they work because they may just be designing the drones of the future.
What functionality does a drone have?
3D Mapping technology on drones has many applications which would enable the user to create 3D models and real time updates of the sites they are monitoring. It would help enable companies to asses a construction site or locate raw materials for a project. This technology is also helping Fire & Recue teams in areas affected by natural disasters.
Sensors also provide an invaluable tool for search and rescue; heat sensors would help them locate people trapped in buildings. Coupled with thermal imagery, gas & oil companies would be able to spot leakage on pipelines and refineries to improve safety.
Delivery via drone is already in development and could see your online shopping being delivered to wherever you are by a drone. GPS sensors would allow the drones to be directed with almost pin point precision to the delivery destination.
Lighting up events such as concerts have already been tried with drones. At a recent Coachella event, drones were used to perform choreographed routines for the crowds. This type of synchronisation could also be used for drone ‘air shows’ and displays.
Disaster and Rescue would greatly benefit from drones not only for the reasons mentioned earlier but also to bring supplies to rescuers and victims alike. Recent developments are also seeing sea rescues use drones to deliver floatation devices to those struggling/drowning in the water.
We could keep this list going all day long as there are quite literally thousands of uses these drones can have. The industries they can serve vary from TV & Film to Civil Engineering and beyond. If there was ever a time to get in on something early, this is it.
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