Like with many other inventions, the history of drones begins with war. The concept of an unmanned aerial vehicles was a dream for military operations around the world and had been pursued since as early as WWI. However it would take until WW2 for basic unmanned air vehicles to be deployed for spy missions against the Axis powers.
Fast-forward to today, drone technology has been well adopted into modern day society with applications from various commercial fields and commercial drone pilots have grown.
There are many different uses for drones, from vital monitoring, research and inspection, and even photography. In fact, commercial drones have risen in popularity over the past few years and have started to play a bigger role in the emerging global market.
In this article, we’ll be covering all the different uses for a drone.
Drones have successfully been deployed in every major natural disaster emergency response since the early 2010s. They mainly are used in search and rescue operations but are also used to clear debris and scout for dangerous terrain. Drones used in search and rescue efforts are equipped with 3d mapping technology and can assist with mapping out damaged infrastructure as well as identify victims. In 2017 drones equipped with thermal sensors were used to help fight the Creek and Skirball wildfires in LA County by identifying “hotspots” so that firefighters could quickly respond to changing wind conditions.
Archaeologists have recently discovered how vital drones are for their research as many sensitive sites are too dangerous to traverse by foot. Furthermore, researchers risk damaging artifacts or even collapsing entire structures if they carelessly excavate. With LIDAR equipped drones, they’re able to explore areas non-invasively and map out the entire area so that they have a better idea of how to excavate.
There have been more and more examples of drone technology revolutionizing the agricultural industry with instances of farmers using custom agriculture drones to fertilize crops, herding animals, and even use aerial footage to measure soil conditions. These are all early examples, but it’s only a matter of time before drone technology revolutionizes the agricultural industry.
In fact, in many states, many of these surveillance drones are actually surplus military drones converted into law enforcement drones. If you’ve ever seen signs that say “speed monitored by radar”, there’s a good chance you’ve been under the watchful eye of a retired Predator drone.
Luckily they won’t shoot missiles at you if you’re speeding.
Real estate is a big industry and there is even drone service specifically for real estate photography. They can be used to take aerial photos and videos of a property, which can then be used to create a marketing package for the property.
Using these aerial vehicles also allow one to assess damage to a property after a storm or other natural catastrophe, which can help speed up the recovery process.
Municipal governments around the world have been utilizing drones to help with dangerous tasks and help with routine safety inspections. In Japan they have used commercial drones equipped with flamethrowers to clear damaged power lines. Other jobs such as bridge inspection, sewage inspection, and windmill inspection are all slowly being taken over by commercial drones. Geographical mapping has also been indispensable when it comes to planning public utility projects such as dams.
In 2013 Amazon began heavily investing in drone delivery technology. Their goal was to deploy drones as the “last-mile” delivery for their products. In 2019 they submitted a petition to the Federal Aviation Administration(FAA) for approval for their delivery drone network and were approved in August of 2020. Naturally they aren’t the only ones interested in this technology; other companies such as UPS and Alphabet’s Wing are also attempting to use drones as delivery networks and were both also approved by the FAA.
With the increase in drone deliveries, we’ll be able to decrease dependence on the oil and gas industry by a significant amount. Let’s hope that delivery drones will become a common thing in the next few years!
In the olden days, we would fly large unwieldy weather balloons up into the atmosphere to gather temperature, humidity, and wind data. The drawbacks of using weather balloons is that they can’t be controlled and often cannot be retrieved.
These days, forecasting agencies have begun transitioning to specialized weather drones to collect data instead. Weather drones can be controlled with great precision and can be used over and over again. Due to this, the quality and quantity of drone data recorded is much higher and weather models are able to more accurately predict upcoming weather.
As a result of the increasing interest and investment in drones, drone costs have plummeted, as a result, it is now financially feasible for warehouse managers to deploy fleets of drones using consumer hardware. There also have been numerous companies formed that offer SaaS solutions for autonomous drone fleet. What this means is that warehouses can easily deploy fleets of drones to act as perimeter security, inspect incoming cargo, scan barcodes, and identify specific items.
Poaching in Africa has been largely curtailed by the use of commercial drones to help monitor endangered species. Drones are used in a variety of ways including flock counting, herding, migration tracking, and perimeter security. This has allowed activists to manage larger areas of land without having to physically patrol the area. There are even a variety of off-the-shelf anti-poaching drones available for purchase.
UAVs have also been used for geographical study and research. They can take aerial images to use for mapping and analysis and can also inspect places that are hard to get to. Drones can also collect data from locations that may be dangerous or places best kept untouched.
The aerial images are taken with high resolution cameras and can later be stitched together into a 3D image the area. These images are then used for various tasks from creating maps to tracking environmental changes, military intelligence and conducting surveillance.
Although drone fishing rarely comes to mind when people think of “drone uses”, it does have the potential to drastically alter the fishing industry. These aerial vehicles can be used to scout out where fish are congregating and advanced models can even cast and pull fish for you! Drone fishing basically allows you to use your civilian drone to turn fishing into a giant crane game!
Photography and Videography
It goes without saying that commercial drones have fundamentally changed the way videographers and photographers approach their craft. Breathtaking aerial imagery that could only be accomplished via helicopter before, can now be achieved with the most basic of drones.
With the ability of aerial photography more easily accessible, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that a drone has become a must in every amateur and professionals’ toolkit.
As the car was invented, racing became a thing so it’s a no brainer that the popularity in personal drones have resulted in the drone racing culture.
Drone racing is a sport that combines technology, machine vision, strategy and agility while making use of the latest drone technology. Drone racers use small quadcopter aircrafts that can fly at high speeds and hone their skills by piloting drones through an enclosed obstacle course while being guided by on-board cameras and position sensors. Drone racers control the the drone using FPV goggles, navigating through tight courses, making quick turns.
This has become such a huge sport and there is even drone racing league, setting up competitions all throughout the United States.
Besides drone racing, some enthusiasts have found ways to play things like drone soccer and drone basketball. FPV Drone racing has also seen a boom in recent years as consumer drones have become increasingly more accessible. FPV Drone racing has numerous international competitions and even have a governing body that sanctions events. As of 2019, drone soccer was also added as a provisional class. You can learn more at https://www.fai.org/sport/drones.
With every new technology, a new medium for art is also born. Every time mankind has invented a new technology, we’ve found ways to express ourselves through them. Drones, of course, are no different. Artists have used recreational drones from the very beginning to perform synchronized air shows with drone fleets, used them as a mobile light array, and even used them for controversial political expression. Tech-savvy artists are constantly finding new ways to push the boundaries of new technologies and often help inform the future development of those technologies.
Drones have been used for a wide variety of purposes, from taking aerial photos to delivering packages.
With increasing number of drone uses and drone companies, there are countless products to choose from as well.
The use cases are limitless and the tech is constantly evolving!
There’s never been a better time than now to become a drone pilot so don’t waste any more time before exploring all that your drone can offer!