Monday, June 8, 2015

Whatever Floats Your Drone

What do you know about drones?? Lately, we hear about how Amazon is experimenting with delivering packages using drones, but I learned some other interesting stuff about them.

Delivery drones are programmed to arrive at an address, drop off the package, then return to the company headquarters.

Drones are also called UAV, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. They can be operated two ways, by an onboard computer or by a person with a remote controller. When multiple drones are being used, there may be a control station with several operators.

Drones can be controlled from a remote location using IOS or Android devices.

A little drone history:
  • The idea of sending bombs off unmanned is known to have happened in the 1800s, in the form of balloons with missiles in them that were then floated by Austria to attack Venice.
  • The Nazis in World War 2 had a V-1 flying bomb that was 'autonomously powered,' meaning it was programmed to go and drop where they wanted it
  • In the 1970s, drones were used in Viet Nam.  
  • Drones are currently being used to observe the terrorist group ISIS:

What do they look like?

Drones have lots of different configurations. Some of them look just like miniature airplanes or helicopters.  Most drones have fixed wings (they don't move). Some drones don't look like aircraft at all.
This one is used for aerial photography

This was is used for surveillance, or watching

This one has missiles attached: it's used to drop a bomb on a remote target.

                                                   Here's an Army drone.

There are drones that can last up to 80 hours or longer.

The obvious advantage of using drones is, it's cheaper to fly a small object with no pilot, and it can be sent into dangerous places or vast open areas or remote areas. On the rare occasion a drone is lost, it isn't nearly as expensive and there won't be loss of lives.

What can they be used for, besides delivering that box of video games and truffles from a store??

  •  Surveying crops to see how things are growing and where the problem areas are

  • Crop spraying (for weed and pest control)
  • Inspecting power lines and pipelines
  • Homeland Security can use them to help patrol our borders

                           This is a command center for drones run by the Border Patrol.

  • Counting wildlife (how many wolves are in a particular area for example)
  • Keeping track of livestock on a large farm
  • Catching illegal hunters
  • Construction: When the building is large, a drone can go up above and see if everything is on target
  • Delivering supplies to remote areas, esp. medical supplies and food
  • Tracking forest fires
  • Search and Rescue: A drone can cover hundreds of miles, taking photos or video as it goes
  • Crowd control. Drones can be fitted with cameras to see who the offenders are, and with pepper spray dispensers so that officers don't have to try to be in 10 places at once. This can help when a situation might get out of hand.

  • Entertainment: Taking video of a skier coming down a mountain, for example; photographing and filming where it would be very hard to get to otherwise
  • Facebook will try to use drones to get internet service to remote areas: Read about it here:
  • Sports videos; for example, sky divers, people diving off high cliffs into the water, etc.
  • Animal Rights activists can have a drone take pictures of a place where animals are abused
  • A drone can help monitor archeological dig sites to be sure no one is looting the area
  • They can be used to patrol over the ocean, which is so vast it is impossible to monitor every storm and every situation.

Here's an article about Amazon's plans to use drones to deliver products:
Destruction in Nepal (no sound)

Cool one: This is kind of an advertisement at the end, but it shows how drones can be constructed.

Drone flying over Minneapolis (Must have been a drone taking film of a drone???)

And over Duluth:

Designing drones takes design, engineering, math, and computer programming skills. You'd also need to understand the weather: wind currents, temperature changes, how storms would affect a drone you design, as well as geography. Flying drones into some states and certainly to foreign countries is regulated and sometimes not allowed.

Do you think drone design and usage is something you're into?

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