Nowadays, Drones are almost everywhere and, most industries are beneficiaries of drone technology because of its availability and ease of operation. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), around 865,660 Drones Registered in the United States till October 2021, of which 340,247 are commercial drones.
Image Credits: Dhulkarnayn / Elucidate Drones
Initially, most of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were designed solely for military purposes, but now they are serving many applications, as follows:
- Disaster Management
- Vehicle Tracking
- Search and Rescue
- Wildlife Monitoring
- Survey and Mapping
- Medical Applications
- Package Delivery
- Military Applications
According to Business Insider, Agricultural Drones are similar to the other type of drones available in the market, but the way they were designed makes them suitable for farming fields.
Image Credits: Herney Gómez from Pixabay
Commercial agricultural drone AGRAS MG-1 by DJI, carry up to 10 kg liquid payloads, including pesticides and fertilizers. It can able to cover an area of 4,000-6,000 m² in just 10 minutes which is 40 to 60 times faster than manual spraying operations.
The utilization of drones during the disaster is highly beneficial, and there are a few known experiences where drones played a crucial role at the time of disasters such as floods, earthquakes, landslides.
Image Credits: Angelo Giordano from Pixabay
Some of the drone applications during disasters are food and relief material delivery, monitoring of the affected area, mapping of affected areas, etc.,
Surveillance is the monitoring of behaviour, many activities, or information for the purpose of information gathering, influencing, managing or directing. In simple words, surveillance is the careful watching of someone or something.
Surveillance is used by governments for intelligence gathering, prevention of crime, the protection of a process, person, group or object, or the investigation of crime.
Image Credits: People illustrations by Storyset
The utilization of drones for surveillance provides access to areas difficult or impossible to reach by humans on foot or in land vehicles. Most of the drones are quieter than aircraft, able to fly at lower altitudes and are less expensive to operate.
Object/vehicle tracking is one of the excellent features available in recent commercial drones. Currently, researchers are working on different deep learning algorithms for automated detection and tracking of vehicles.
Video Credits: Yusrizuandi HY
The above video contains a DJI Spark that follows the vehicle of its owner.
Search and Rescue
Nowadays, Search and rescue drones are most widely used by emergency services like police, firefighters and other volunteer rescue teams.
They are the ideal solution for searching missing persons and crime victims and suitable for any environment.
Video Credits: DJI
The above video explains, how search and rescue operations are handled using the DJI M-200 series of drones in countries like Iceland, where weather conditions are harsh and daylight is limited.
At Fort Collins Science Center in Colorado, a population count of Sandhill cranes was accomplished in only four hours. Using a modified former military drone, the biologists counted 14,000 sandhill cranes, which would have taken many people several days to accomplish on land.1
Image Credits: http://www.birdphotos.com, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
- Drones are used to count, study and protect animals from harm, and they are more accurate at counting animals and birds.
- Drones can able to record huge amounts of data quicker than humans.2
Survey and Mapping
Land surveying is the art of determining the positions on the earth and measuring the distances, directions, angles, and elevations between them.
The data captured using surveying helps accurately create maps and determine plot boundaries.
Video Credits: Delair
The above video contains the details of one of the commercially successful fixed-wing mapping drones, UX11, from Delair.
During the emergency, we can able to identify the area of the accident and the number of victims using drones before the arrival of emergency services.3
Image Credits: Coronavirus illustrations by Storyset
At the time of the COVID-19 crisis, vaccines were transported and delivered using drones in some countries like India.4
The two of the recently popular entertainment industries involving drones are,
Drone Light Shows
A drone display or drone light show is the use of multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), often quadcopters, flying in a coordinated fashion for public display.
Drones are equipped with LEDs, and the display is held at night. Drone light shows have a central computer on the ground, tracking every single drone and moving them all in unison.
Video Credits: Guinness World Records
The above video is one of the longest animations performed by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is 26 min 19 sec and was achieved by EFYI Group (China) and supported by Tianjin University (China) in Tianjin, China, on 18 December 2020, for reference.
Drone racing or FPV drone racing is a sport type where participants control drones, equipped with cameras while wearing head-mounted displays showing the live stream camera feed from the drones.
Image Credits: Technology illustrations by Storyset
Drone racing can be also simulated on computers via drone flight simulators such as Velocidrone, Liftoff, DRL Simulator, etc.
Nowadays, most of the establishment scenes in movies are aerial shots, which makes the scenes more visually stunning. Before a few years, the directors were hesitant to make aerial shots because of their cost, but now it’s entirely different.
Aerial cinematography provides a very high vantage point, can able to capture more details within a frame.5
Video Credits: TIME
- Drones are suitable for filmmaking because they can reach areas where helicopter or camera operators can’t go.
- They are also way cheaper to use.
- Drones also take less time to set up compared to other filming rigs.
Delivery drones are primarily used to transport packages, pharmaceutical supplies, food items, or other assets. Delivery drones are typically autonomous.6
Image Credits: Technology illustrations by Storyset
Some of the popular drone delivery organizations7 are as follows:
As stated earlier, Initially, most of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were designed solely for military purposes, but now they are serving many applications.
In Army, usage of drones ranges from monitoring a crowd to inter-border monitoring between countries. Two of the recent advancements in the battlefield are:
Swarm robotics is an approach to the coordination of multiple robots as a system that consists of large numbers of mostly simple physical robots.
Drone swarms are collection of drones, that are flying in the desired airspace to perform certain or several intelligent operations, that they’re intended to do.
Loitering Munitions are the type of drones that are self explosive, and explosion is triggered by hitting the identified potential target in the intended region. They’re also called Kamikaze drones or suicide drones.
Video Credits: STM
As one of the leading manufacturers of loitering munition platforms and surveillance drones, STM maintains its research on swarm drones aligns with military applications.
In the above video, a swarm of 20 Kargu drones performs pattern formation, rotation of formations and translation of formations.
I’ve tried to explain the prominent applications of drones with the acquired information from various sources. I’m expectantly waiting for your valuable feedback and suggestions regarding this topic.
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Conservation Drones, Wikipedia. ↩
The Use of Drones in Emergency Medicine: Practical and Legal Aspects, Anna Konert et al, Open access article, Hindawi. ↩
Covid vaccine delivery through drones starts in Northeast, The Times of India. ↩
What is Aerial Cinematography? Drone Shots and Techniques, Studio Binder. ↩
Delivery drone, Wikipedia. ↩
Top 10 Commercial Drone Delivery Companies, eCommerce Next. ↩