The Evolution of Drone Technology: All you need to know

Posted by Beverley Smith on

 

"Your pizza has been delivered to your balcony. Thank you for your order.This futuristic and almost unrealistic phrase a few years ago may well sound familiar in a short time. Technology and innovation have in fact allowed the emergence of more and more drones in homes. Useful in many areas thanks to best dash camsor motion activated hidden camera, the drone is today mainly used for aerial photography even though its other functions are very numerous. Racing drone racer, monitoring drone, or a real camera embedded for Hollywood, the small flying object is capable of many missions.

                                                   

What can a drone serve? 

How was the drone born? What are the applications and uses of the drone both in model aircraft and in the professional world?  Used in the military world for over a century, the drone is now among the most popular connected objects. The professional world is not left out in terms of exploiting this tool with many possibilities. In the civilian environment, what is called "drone" includes unmanned aircraft on board. A miniaturized version of aircraft that is piloted using, among other things, a smartphone, tablet or radio remote control.

 

Drone at the cinema 

 Like a large number of sectors, the cinema has seized the opportunity to make more spectacular its large scenes. Let's see precisely its usefulness. It's been a few years now that the sky has welcomed a very special new inhabitant: the drone. Small unmanned remote-controlled or multirotor aircraft, the drone has been adopted by a large number of sectors; agriculture, army, engineering, surveillance, but also cinema. Yes, the big screen has tamed this flying object clearly identifiable among all. The growing success of the drone is not only related to its gadget side, no, its field of expertise is vast. Equipped with a camera, the mini drone has the power to capture images in aerial view. This is why cinema did not hesitate long before seizing the opportunity to film its scenes differently. And to say that the surplus value is great.

 

Drones in agriculture 

For farmers, drones are much more than a gadget: mapping, monitoring herds and spreading, their uses are multiple. The drone is particularly useful for the agricultural world, especially in the surveillance of herds.Drones are making their way into the vineyard, monitoring plant health and measuring their needs with a camera and sensors. 

 

The future of mass market and commercial drones. 

The Federal Aviation Administration expects sales of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to almost triple in the next three years. This growth is due to technological innovations that bring new capabilities and uses for flying robots, beyond mere entertainment.

 

Drones are increasingly responding to serious business needs. 

With the new year, we have seen a string of announcements from the drone industry at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017. Many of them fall into three categories: industrial drones, selfie drones for individuals and racing drones that fuel adrenaline. Some drones are small, making them more maneuverable, while others have become smarter, equipped with autonomous navigation systems and virtual reality capabilities.Drones that see and think "Vision and collision avoidance began in 2016," said Anil Nanduri, vice president of New Technologies Group and general manager of the UAV segment at Intel, adding that these technologies are becoming the norm in new UAV models. . "This year, we will see more redundancy built into systems to provide a backup system for vision problems," he says. "These sensing technologies will help drones fly in fog and in all weathers. " For example, the Yuneec Typhoon H drone with Intel® RealSense ™ 3D camera technology avoids obstacles by creating a 3D map of what it sees in real time and by "remembering" where objects are around them. The new DJI models released in 2016, the Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4, use forward and downward-facing vision sensors to detect obstacles. The all-new DJI professional motion drone, the Inspire 2, improves collision avoidance in confined spaces by including upward-pointing infrared sensors.  

 

 Thanks to computer vision and artificial intelligence, drones are simpler and safer to operate.

 "There will be more automation, from the launch of the drone, during flight and data capture, to being able to transmit this data and analyze it automatically," says Anil Nanduri. "These smarter drones will know what they need to do, reducing the level of address required for pilots. " In addition to flight capabilities beyond the line of sight and innovations in the field of hybrid fixed-wing and multirotor hybrid drones, Anil Nanduri explains that safety will be essential to the future of drones, as for any device connected to Internet.

 

Innovation in the field of industrial drones

 The pioneering DJI drone announced that it has acquired a majority stake in Hasselblad, a Swedish camera manufacturer for 75 years, whose technology was used by NASA during the Mercury and Apollo missions. This marriage between a legendary company and the world's leading consumer UAV manufacturer indicates that a significant increase in aerial image capture is on the horizon. Autel Robotics, maker of multirotor and fixed-wing UAVs, has introduced two new cameras for its X-Star Premium quadcopter range. Designed for professionals, the FLIR Duo thermal imaging camera will be a boon for firefighters and building contractors. Autel is also releasing a 4K camera with a one-inch CMOS sensor, dramatically improving the resolution and clarity of its existing camera module. These and other innovations could inspire new industrial applications for drones.For example, the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus now inspects its aircraft using an AscTec Falcon 8 manufactured by Ascending Technologies (a company owned by Intel). This drone captures high-definition images of the aircraft, which are then quickly scanned by computers for imperfections. "UAVs, sensors, the database, cloud computing and machine learning are really critical to our business," says Ronnie Gnecco, Head of UAV Development and Applications at Airbus. Ronnie Gnecco explains that it usually takes about two hours for two men on a gondola to inspect the quality of a new Airbus aircraft. With a drone equipped with a camera, his team produces better data from the 150 high-definition images taken in about 10 minutes.

 

Selfie drones 

The selfie drones, which really made their entrance during CES 2015 with Nixie, continue to improve and proliferate. At CES 2017, new tiny models were presented. Some fold even to fit in a pocket, like the Zerotech Dobby drone. Ordered by a smartphone app, the Dobby automatically unfolds to take photo and video selfies with its 4K electronic image stabilization camera. It includes several "smart" functions such as face recognition, tracking and gesture control, which are tools that allow pilots to abandon the remote and watch Dobby move by himself. The Wingsland S6 takes the mini-drone pocket selfies in a new direction by adding a foam projectile launcher. The Wingsland S6 flies safely everywhere because it uses indoor optical flow sensors and an outdoor GPS. It includes many of the features that are standard on the more expensive DJI drones, such as a 4K camera, standalone flight modes, and automatic return to the starting point in case of signal loss or low battery.

 

Racing drones

 What was then a marginal passion for adrenaline junkies has become a serious activity. Traditionally, to be a good driver, you had to be able to build a high-performance racing drone. Today, ready-to-fly platforms are flourishing. The UVify Draco, a high-speed quadcopter designed for serious first-person action (FPV) races, falls into this category. The manufacturer announces a top speed of 160 km / h, a carbon fiber chassis, easy-to-replace modular parts and a live HDV digital video transmission system with zero latency. The digital FPV video system is particularly noteworthy, as the majority of FPV systems used by amateur and professional pilots are analog. Digital systems exist, but tend to be more expensive, with some latency in the video stream.   

 

 Drones that see and think

 With 3D camera technology, Intel® RealSense ™ avoids obstacles by creating a 3D map of what it sees in real time and by "remembering" where objects are around them. The new DJI models released in 2016, the Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4, use forward and downward-facing vision sensors to detect obstacles. The all-new DJI professional motion drone, the Inspire 2, improves collision avoidance in confined spaces by including upward-pointing infrared sensors. Thanks to computer vision and artificial intelligence, drones are simpler and safer to drive.In addition to flight capabilities beyond the line of sight and innovations in the field of hybrid fixed-wing and multirotor hybrid drones, Anil Nanduri explains that safety will be essential to the future of drones, as for any device connected to Internet.  

 

 Artificial intelligence, an alternative to obstacle sensors? 

Many drones are equipped with obstacle avoidance sensors. But that does not reduce the number of crashes. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have been working on an artificial intelligence that would allow the drone to analyze the environment with its camera.  The drone is able to learn because it is equipped with a network of neurons. This system would be 2 to 10 times more efficient than any other obstacle detection system. The tests were carried out on an AR Drone of the Parrot brand.

 

 Crash to better take off

 How did the researchers proceed? Crashing the droneThe goal was to put the drone in a learning situation, as if a child were learning to walk. He often falls, but with experience he ends up finding a balance. With the drone it's the same. The researchers confronted him with more than 11,000 collisions in an indoor environment. After more than 40 hours of flight, the drone knew the environment and knew how to react in many situations. For example, he knows how to react when someone comes in his direction, or in a narrow corridor with obstacles. The neural network determines whether an action is good or bad thanks to all the situations it has already been confronted with. This technology can become truly reliable and enable autonomous flights whether for drone delivery or surveillance. Today, the autonomous flight must be supervised by a tele-pilot who must be able to change the trajectory at any time. This becomes binding to continue to create new uses of the drone.  

 

 A drone helicopter on Mars in 2020? 

The US space agency has announced its intention to ship in 2020 the very first drone like helicopter on Mars. A miniature machine that could help deepen the knowledge of the red planet. Soberly dubbed "The Mars Helicopter", this fuselage unit barely bigger than a baseball weighs less than 1.8 kilograms. It is intended to travel from Earth with the March 2020 rover, a wheeled robot that must study the habitability of the planet, look for signs of an old life and evaluate the natural resources and dangers for future human explorers. The launch is scheduled for July 2020, for an arrival in February 2021. 


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