Drones have been around for quite some time but have come into the public eye over the last couple of years and more recently have come to the retail market as the cost of manufacture has decreased dramatically.
Sometimes referred to as a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) or UAS (Unmanned aerial system), a drone is simply a flight capable device that has no pilot on board – they can range massively in size being as small as 15cm and as large as a small commercial aircraft and whilst they do have a military history they are now being used for every imaginable purpose.
Drones are very similar to the helicopters and airplanes used by hobbyists and are typically controlled by a radio linked device but one of the key functions that typically set drones apart from other flight systems is the stability that drones provide – normally facilitated by having 4 blades; one on each corner of the device.
The extreme stability of the drone paves the way for the crucial element that has really made them take off and that is the ability to add a camera to the drone in order to take video and still images at very high quality whilst in mid flight.
Drones will often be fitted with high tech cameras such as the Gopro Hero camera, which enable the user to take photographs and video footage from the drone whilst it is in flight, with some units this footage can be monitored in real time by the controller and in other scenarios it can be recorded and stored for later analysis. Of course the quality of the footage that can be taken does vary depending on the type of camera and particularly on the type of drone and how stable it is, there is a great resource available detailing the best drones for GoPro.
Having the ability to take this type of footage makes drones useful in many different types of scenarios including surveying, mapping, damage auditing, bridge inspection and many other projects that require aerial photography and often involve situations where it is much harder for humans to gain direct access.
In addition to all of these possibilities, drones are also becoming very popular with hobbyists and are being used for photography, sports shots and other activities.
the future of drone technology is arguably even more diverse with companies like Amazon and Google currently developing fully autonomous drones that will be capable of delivering consumer goods and other more ambitious tasks.