A beginners’ guide to understanding Drones
(Credits: Research and first draft by Devender and Medha, who contributed equally. Raamesh and Sukant contributed to editing. Sukant guided this research and conceived the project.)
A drone is essentially an unmanned aerial vehicle; a type of aircraft which is either autonomous or remotely piloted. Its earliest predecessor were unmanned balloons by Austrians in 1894. Current drones can be categorized on the basis of the number of propellers (tri copters, quadcopters, hexacopters, octa-copters), size (nano, mini, regular size, large), and range (very close range, close range, short range, mid-range, endurance) but we think that several upcoming drones have and would have many interesting functional features, which might be better ways of classifying. Anyway, let us dive into the basics of drones, how different countries are using them, and the brilliant future that humanity can have with them.
As you set out your journey in drone world you would encounter some standard hardware. Drone hardware includes a frame, propellers, batteries, transmitters and receivers, electronic speed controllers (ESC’s), motors and a flight controller interfaced with certain electronic devices like gyro-meters and accelerometers, just to name a few things. To control the hardware, electronic modules like Arduino, Raspberry Pi could also be used for self-programming.
The size and shape of the frame of Drone completely depends on the needs. For example, for aerial cinematography, a big frame is used to lift camera with tall landing gears and for high maneuverability, small frame is the best option. The motors, batteries, and electronic speed control (ESC) to be chosen depend on the weight that drone needs to carry. To design a drone, appropriate transmitters and receivers are required. For example, minimum 4-channel transmitter and receiver for a quadcopter. The drone controls involve the mathematical functions of PID controls (Proportional-Integral-Derivative control) and the Thrust-to-Weight ratio. The position and orientation of the robot are defined by the terms rolling, pitching and yawing (steering).
Some of the advanced drones available today are DJI Inspire 1 Pro Quadcopter, ALTA UAV Drone, Faucon’s Drone, and Passport (Hover camera), etc. The functions of drones are becoming more advanced with time, the scope of UAV’s is widening and it would have applications in several walks of our lives in very near future. Before we look at the cutting edge, let us briefly look at the history of drones.
History of drones
The present day drones have evolved from various primitive predecessors. The sequential order of the UAVs evolution can be explained starting from the unmanned balloons used in 1849 to the present as:
On 22 August 1849, the Austrians used UAV for the first time and attacked Venice using unmanned Balloons loaded with explosives.
Nikola Tesla invented a small unmanned boat that changes direction on verbal command by using radio frequencies to switch motors on and off and presented it in an exhibition at Madison Square Garden.
During the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, the Aerial imagery was used by the British Military to capture about 15,000 sky view maps of the German trench fortifications in the region.
During World War 1, the first UAVs took flight in the United States, though the success of UAVs in test flight was erratic but the military stamped their potential in the combat.
Etienne Oemichen gave a design which had 4 rotors and 8 propellers all driven by one motor and recorded over 1000 Successful flights. The First recorded FAI distance record was of 360m in 1924 for a helicopter.
During the period of the 30s, the U.S. Navy began experimenting with Radio Controlled Aircraft and finally leading to the invention of Curtiss N2C-2 DRONE IN 1937 and thereafter new UAVs emerged as an influential combat training tool.
Reginald Denny sold about 15,000 radio-controlled target drones to the U.S. Military to train the anti-aircraft gunners for World War II.
The first large-scale production of drones by U.S. initiated by Reginald Denny.
The German military inaugurated the FX-1400, or “The Fritz X”, a bomb with four small wings and a radio controller weighing 1362 Kg. It was the first remotely controlled munition put into operational use and a great breakthrough for guided aerial weapons.
Model A Quadcopter being designed by George de Bothezat and Ivan Jerome was the first successful quadcopter which used varying thrust of all four propellers in order to control pitch, roll, and yaw, Although it was difficult for the pilot to fly because of the workload of trying to control the thrust of all four props simultaneously.
Curtis Wright company designed Curtis Wright VZ-7 as a US Army Project which used variable thrust in the four propellers to control flight so as to simplify the workload for the Pilot.
From the early use of target drones and remotely piloted combat vehicles, UAVs took a new role during the Vietnam War that is of stealth surveillance.
During this time Israel developed the two un-piloted surveillance machines MASTIFF UAV and the IAA Scout. Also, the success of the Fire bee continued through the end of the Vietnam War. In the 1970s, the U.S. set its sights on other kinds of UAVs while other countries began to develop their own advanced UAV systems
Israel outwits Soviet anti-aircraft technology at the outbreak of hostilities with Syria, by revealing its location using a swarm of unmanned aircraft.
Pioneer UAV Program was introduced in the 1980s when a need for an on-call, inexpensive, unmanned, over the horizon targeting, reconnaissance and battle damage assessment (BDA) capability for local commanders was identified by the U.S. military operations in Grenada, Lebanon, and Libya. The expeditious acquisition of UAV systems for fleet operations using non-developmental technology was directed by the Secretary of the Navy in July 1985.
Reconnaissance Drone was a joint U.S. and Israeli project which produced the “RQ2 Pioneer”, a medium sized reconnaissance drone.
Miniature and Micro UAVs became the part of research and soon came into action.
Predator Drone was first deployed in Afghanistan to hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
The Parrot AR Drone, a smartphone-controlled quadcopter for consumers was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Congress required the FAA to integrate small drones into the national airspace by 2015.
On 60 Minutes, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveils an audacious plan of delivery drones and a future service called Prime Air.
Drones for delivery was used by Amazon for the first time in 2014. Also as the FAA grants an exemption to film and TV production companies for drone use, Producer Jerry Bruckheimer reveals that actor Tom Cruise will star in Top Gun 2 alongside drones, this story is from the 27 October 2014, issue of Fortune.
In the past 10 years, many small advanced quadcopters have entered the market that includes the DJI Phantom and Parrot AR Drone. This new breed of quadcopters are cheap, lightweight, and use advanced electronics for flight control. Drones are executing search and rescue missions, tracking cattle rustlers, or monitoring wildfires with minimal cost and little risk of loss of life everywhere today.
Drones today are diverse and come with fixed wing systems, multi-rotor systems, and other systems like ornithopters, hybrid systems, and with turbofans. Level of autonomy of the drones also varies from being fully autonomous to fully controlled by a remote pilot. Size and weight are also important characteristics where the size of the drone may vary from that of an insect to the size of a commercial airplane and weight may vary from hundreds of grams to hundreds of kilograms. Last characteristic defining drones is the difference in energy sources like battery cells, solar cells, and traditional airplane fuels.
The classification of drones is as follows:
· WING SYSTEM
The main drones types are fixed wing and multirotor systems. Fixed-wing systems use fixed, static wings combined with forwarding airspeed to generate lift as used in traditional airplanes like Raven that are fast and suitable for large distances. Multirotor systems, like the DJI Phantom, use multiple rotary wings for stability and generating lift and they do not need a landing strip, make less noise and can hover in their air. Other systems include the hybrid systems and ornithopters. A hybrid quadcopter is an example of hybrid systems having characteristics of both the fixed wing and multirotor systems as it uses multiple rotors for vertical take-off and landing along with wings for long distance flight. Ornithopters, like Delfly explorer, follows the wing motions of birds and insects and is neither a multirotor nor a fixed-wing system.
· LEVEL OF AUTONOMY
The unmanned systems are classified by four basic levels of autonomy as defined by the United States Department of Defense. A human operator makes all the decisions regarding drone operation in an human-operated system which is the most basic level of autonomy and it does not have any autonomous control over its environment. The second level of autonomy is the human delegated system which can perform tasks like engine controls, automatic controls and other automation that must be activated or deactivated by a human controller. A human supervised system forms a higher level of autonomy where the system can perform tasks on the basis of permissions and directions by a human depending on the sensed data within the scope of the current task. The final level of autonomy is a fully autonomous system in which the system receives commands from human, translates them into specific tasks without further human interaction. However, human intervention is acknowledged in the case of emergencies.
· DIFFERENCES IN ENERGY SOURCES
Traditional Airplane Fuel, Battery cells, Fuel Cells and Solar Cells are the four main categories of energy sources. Kerosene is an airplane fuel used in large fixed-wing drones like the military Predator drone, equipped with sensors, rockets and other types of ammunitions, used by the US army. The phantom drone, which is an example of a smaller multirotor drone, uses battery cells and has a short range, require less operating time, often used for recreational purposes. A fuel cell is an electrochemical device to convert chemical energy from a fuel directly into electrical energy. Fuel cells provide an advantage of longer flight time without the need of recharging and is used in heavyweight fixed-wing drones like the Stalker drone with a flight time of 8 hours. Solar cells, rare in the drone industry today are highly suitable for ornithopters. Companies like Google and facebook struck deal with solar drone manufacturers to fulfill their goal of improving the ease of Internet connectivity for a massive area by ensuring permanent flying of solar-powered drones.
Delfly Explorer, Hubsan x4 Drone, Parrot AR Drone, DJI Phantom, Raven, and ScanEagle are some popular drones widely used across the world today. Their characteristics vary as mentioned above and they find applications in various sectors of society from civilians to military purposes. The military drones fall into six functional categories:
Ø Target and decoy- These are used to provide ground and aerial gunnery a target which simulates an enemy aircraft or missile.
Ø Reconnaissance- These are used to provide battlefield intelligence.
Ø Combat- These help in providing the capability to attack in high-risk missions.
Ø Logistics- These are used to deliver cargo.
Ø Research and Development- These involve R&D to improve UAV technologies.
Ø Civil and Commercial- These find applications in areas like agriculture, aerial photography, data collection, etc.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
The UAVs find an advantage over manned aircraft as they are good for “dull, dangerous and dirty” tasks, provide a persistent presence over a specific area to provide still and video imagery, provide capabilities for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to ground troops, provide air strike capabilities, and are relatively cheap. Their disadvantages include low maneuverability, low operational speed, little defensive measures, vulnerability to attack from a sophisticated air defense network, cyber or communication link attacks or lost data links, limited area, and requirement of a sophisticated data analysis.
Different security issues arise in the commercial and private use of UAVs as they could be used for lethal purposes, for criminal activities like drug smuggling, and for terrorist activities when hijacked by terrorist networks under third-party control situations. Another issue relates to the safety concerns when operating drones like the operating and control abilities of people over their drones failing which paves the way to a number of accidents. The safety, security and privacy concerns need to be taken into consideration in the technological development of drones, their market development, and in their use by public and private parties. The market itself must be able to develop technological solutions to accommodate some of the concerns. In addition, adequate regulation must ensure that UAVs be flown under safe conditions and provide clarity of the limits to use such devices.
UAVs provide applications in aerospace, military for reconnaissance, attack, defense against UAV, and targets for military training, demining, civil for hobby and recreational use, commercial aerial surveillance, professional aerial surveying, commercial and motion picture filmmaking, journalism, law enforcement, search and rescue, scientific research, conservation, anti-poaching, pollution-monitoring, surveying, oil, gas and mineral exploration and production, disaster relief, archeology, cargo transport, agriculture, precision farming (it involves farmers to recognize each plant individually to estimate the yield and its watering cycle), construction, passenger transport, light show, and monitoring criminal and terrorist activities.
Future developments of drone technology include drones becoming smaller, lighter, much more efficient, and cheaper. Therefore, drones will become widely available to the general public and will be used for a wider scope of applications. It is expected that drones will become more autonomous and capable of operating in swarms in the near future.
The hardware used in a quadcopter includes Propellers, Brushless DC motors, ESCs, Body Frame, Battery, Transmitter, Receiver and a Flight Controller which could be pre-programmed or self-programmed using various electronic tools like Arduino, Raspberry Pi. The description of the Components is as given:
Propellers convert the rotational motion into thrust and it’s working principle is based on Bernoulli’s principle and Newton’s third law of motion. In the Quadcopter, a total of four propellers is used out of which two move in the clockwise direction while two moves in the anti-clockwise direction.
Propellers are categorized on the basis of length and the pitch. Pitch is the distance traveled by drone in one single prop rotation. If the propeller is given having the characteristic 10x4.5, it means that the length is 10 inches while the pitch is 4.5. More torque is produced by the propellers of lower pitch and hence can operate on less current whereas for a high pitch propeller, more air will get displaced and this will result in a turbulent motion. Due to this, the drone would shake while hovering. Thus, a lower pitch propeller is recommended.
The variation in speed of the quadcopter is easier in the case of small propellers but in the case of large propellers, it takes a little time to change the speed. Also, the drone with small props uses high RPM motor and the blades spin rapidly to make UAV fly. However, it is noteworthy that a motor having less kV is used for operating the larger propellers otherwise motor may burn due to excessive heat produced.
Types of Propellers Used
Plastic Propeller: These are lightweight and Inexpensive but have balancing issues and produces more sound and vibrations.
Carbon Fibre Propeller: These Props are lighter in weight, strong, more balanced and produces Lesser vibration and sound but it is expensive and provides lower thrust than plastic.
ESC( ELECTRONIC SPEED CONTROLLER)
It drives the brushless motor by providing the appropriate level of electrical power by converting the PWM signal from the receiver.
BEC( Battery Elimination Circuit) is a voltage regulator that converts the voltage from LiPo battery to a lower voltage to control the supply. Usually, BEC is built into ESC eliminating the need for another battery to power the 5V electronic devices.
UBEC ( Universal BEC) is used when ESC doesn’t have built-in BEC. They generally are more reliable, more efficient and able to provide more current than BEC. The UBEC is connected in a similar way as the ESC i.e. directly to the main battery of the multi-copter.
In drones, lithium polymer battery is being used and mAh is used to describe the total amount of energy a battery can store at one time. A battery rated at more mAh will give power for a longer amount of time, given the same usage pattern but have a drawback of much weight and larger size. As the battery gets larger, the increase in flight time becomes lesser effective and eventually, a point is reached when no more flight time is increased with the size. This is mainly caused by the weight of the battery and hence agility of drone is reduced.
Max Current Draw:
Max current supplied by the battery to the motors when the current draw is at 100% throttle,
can be calculated by this formula:
max current = capacity * C-rating
Every quadcopter would use BLDC (Brushless DC motors). With multi rotors, it’s important to maintain the thrust to weight ratio to be at least 2. It is to make sure that your motors can produce around double thrust than the total weight of your drone. Or in other words, your drone should be able to hover at half throttle.
Kv is not a rating, but it is a motor constant and is taken to be the RPM/Volt of an unloaded motor. The Kv constant tells that how fast the motor will rotate when 1 volt is applied. This means that if 2 Volts is applied, the motor will rotate twice the value of Kv.
Brushless DC motors are used as they have very high power density (in terms of size and weight), are incredibly efficient and can spin really fast with precisely controlled speed. Moreover, they’re inexpensive to manufacture.
In electronics, a transmitter or radio transmitter is an electronic device which generates a radio frequency alternating current. When a connected antenna is excited by this alternating current, the antenna emits radio waves. The number of channels a transmitter have determines the number of controls it is having. So a 4-channel radio will be able to control 4 different things whereas a 6-channel radio will be able to control 6 controls.
For a quadcopter, a minimum of 4 channels is required, not because of the 4 motors but because of the 4 different controls required to fly the quadcopter. These controls are Throttle(how fast the motors are spinning), Pitch(tilting the multi-copter forwards and backward), Roll(tilting the multi-copter to either side), Yaw(rotating the multi-copter on its axis).
The receiver is an electronic device used to receive radio waves and convert the information to a usable form.
Types of receivers:
PWM receivers: PWM( Pulse Width Modulation) receivers use one servo wire for each channel. So for 4 channels, 4 servo wires are used going to the channel’s port on the receiver. PWM receivers are comparatively large because of so much wiring.
PPM receivers: PPM( Pulse Position Modulation) sends multiple PWM signals through a single wire in succession. PPM is preferable because in this only a single wire is required and it can carry all the Channel signals required with the maximum of 8 channels and is very useful in small, clean builds.
SBUS receivers: SBUS is a serial connection and this also uses just a single wire and is much faster. It is a preferable choice of the Drone users.
A flight controller (FC) is a small circuit board of varying complexity. Its function is to direct the RPM of each motor in response to the given input. It determines how to manipulate the motors in accordance with the command from the pilot for the multi-rotor. It can also be self-programmed using an Arduino interfaced with the electronic components like gyrometer, accelerometer etc. or else a variety of pre-programmed highly stable flight controllers are available some of which are 3DR PixHawk, DJI A3, DJI NAZA-M V2, Lumenier LUX.
The materials for the frames are fiberglass (G10), carbon fiber and aluminium, but the thing that matters the most is how well the frame is designed.For different tasks, the differently sized frame is preferred like for Aerial cinematography, Drone must be big enough to lift a specific camera with tall landing gear and for Sports, Super light-weight and extremely stiff for crisp and responsive control.
To understand the specifics of a drone’s working, we need to understand some basic terminologies used for a flight that is Drag, Thrust, Lift, Pitch, Roll, and Yaw.
The mechanical force applied by any fluid to oppose the motion of any object is called Drag. Since here we are talking about Drones passing through the air, so here we’ll be dealing with the ‘aerodynamic drag’. The difference in velocity between the multirotor and the air is responsible for the aerodynamic drag. This comes to act only when the quadcopter/multirotor is in motion otherwise there is no drag. For the movement of a drone, this drag force along with the weight of the drone is required to be overcome.
It is the force generated by the propellers of the multirotor to work against the aerodynamic drag. The thrust is not the only force responsible for lifting the multirotor up, instead, it is the force that helps to overcome the drag resistance.
It is the force which is responsible for lifting the drone up in the air acting against the weight of drone. The propellers on the multirotor generate a ‘lift’ force using principles like Newton’s third law of motion and the Bernoulli’s Principle(pushing the air downwards and the difference in air pressure). For a successful flight, Lift force must be greater than the weight of the drone.
To fly in the forward or the backward direction we need to control the speed of rear motors relative to the front motors and the term used for this motion is Pitch. In order to pitch forward, the speed of rear motors of the quadcopter must increase relative to the speed of the front motors which ‘pitches’ the nose (front) of the quadcopter down and hence resulting in the forward movement. This can be achieved by either decreasing the speed of the front motors or increasing the speed of the rear motors. In a similar manner to ‘pitch’ backward, the speed of the front motors of the quadcopter must increase relative to the speed of the rear motors.
For the side to side motion, the Speed of the right motors is controlled relative to the speed of left motors and the term used for this type of motion is ‘Roll’. In order to ‘roll’ to the right, the speed of left motors of the quadcopter must be increased relative to the speed of the right motors. This ‘rolls down’ the quadcopter to the right side in a sideways swaying movement. Similar to the Pitch, this can also be achieved by either decreasing the speed of the right motors or increasing the speed of the left motors. In the similar manner to ‘roll’ left, the speed of the right motors of the quadcopter should be increased relative to the speed of left motors.
The rotational movement of the quadcopter is termed as Yaw and it comes into action when the Diametrically opposing pairs of motors increase their speed relative to the other pair. In this case, the rotation speed of diametrically opposing pairs of motors is increased or decreased, varying the torque in the direction of rotation of that pair which causes the quadcopter to rotate in the direction of the increased torque.
In a quadcopter, the four motors are placed at the edges of the arms of the frame. The direction of rotation of each motor is such that the torque generated by each of the motors cancels out. The adjacent motors rotate in the reverse direction while the opposing motors rotate in the same direction. In order for the quadcopter to hover in place, it is necessary to ensure that all the motors rotate at the same RPM which must be sufficient enough to generate a ‘lift’ balancing its own weight and the torque due to all four motors must be cancelled out so that the quadcopter don’t yaw in a certain direction. In order to gain the altitude, all four motors of the quadcopter must increase the speed of rotation simultaneously and similarly to descend down, the speed of all four motors must be decreased simultaneously. The flight controller is the Brain of the Drone. This board is placed at the center and responsible for controlling the firmware within the ESCs and consequently controls the spin rate of the motors. The quadcopter cannot function accurately and efficiently without the use of external sensors added with the flight controller. So for a stable and precise flight different sensors like Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Inertia measurement unit (IMU) are used and interfaced with the flight controllers and to make a quadcopter fly better some additional sensors like Barometer, Distance measuring sensors, GPS, Magnetometer could be used.
In order to make the drone agile, the acceleration and de-acceleration of the drone must be quick, that means that it should pitch forward in the beginning and when it is time to stop, the quadcopter should pitch in the opposite direction quickly in an aggressive angle.
It is necessary so as to decrease the stopping distance. Secondly for the drone to be agile, the quadcopter must be able to turn quickly with a small turning radius.
The accelerometer measures the rate of change of the object’s speed and tells whether the object is going up or down. It senses both static gravity acceleration and dynamic acceleration to detect the type of motion. The unit of measurement is meter per second square or g (9.8 m/s²). It measures acceleration in three different axes(x, y, and Z-axes). The accelerometer senses both linear motion and the direction of the ground by sensing the earth’s gravitational pull.
The gyroscope measures the rate of rotation of an object about its axis which is measured in degrees per second or rotations per minute (RPM). It is mounted on the center of the quadcopter in such a way that it is aligned with its axes and thus providing information about the orientation of the quadcopter. Three axes of rotations are measured (roll, pitch, and yaw).
INERTIAL MEASUREMENT UNIT (IMU)
For the accurate measurement of the orientation, velocity and the location of the quadcopter, IMU is used. It is a board in which both accelerometer and the gyrometer are combined to get much stability. To correct the errors in the gyroscope feedback, IMU may also contain a magnetometer.
The barometer is a pressure sensor that senses changes in air pressure and hence can be used to measure the altitude of the quadcopter as with an increase in the altitude the pressure decreases.
It receives data from multiple satellites in order to point the geographical location of the quadcopter. With the GPS system, we can also set specific coordinates for the quadcopter to fly to and GPS also provides us an RTH (return to home) function which enables the drone to fly back to the controller in case of connection loss.
It acts like a compass to measure the earth’s magnetic field and serves the task of correcting the drift of the gyro and to serve as an ancillary to the GPS system.
Distance sensors are used for the much accurate reading of the altitude and to prevent the drone from Collison with any external obstacle. Generally, these distance sensors use the ultrasonic or light-based system.
In the present time, a lot of advanced drones have emerged and being used in the various field in accordance with their significance. Some of the most advanced drones have been described below which include the drones DJI MAVIC PRO, ACECORE, DJI PHANTOM 4 PRO, PASSPORT HOVER CAMERA.
DJI MAVIC PRO
The DJI Mavic Pro is a small and powerful drone whose compactness in size hides the inside complexity making it one of DJI’S most sophisticated flying camera. It consists of 24 high-performance computing cores, 4 vision sensors, a transmission system with a 7Km range, and a 4K camera stabilized by a 3 axis mechanical gimbal. The MAVIC PRO is having the following plus points.
Mavic Pro is powered with the pocket-sized remote controller and OcuSync transmission technology, the range of 7km, HD 720p for long range and Full HD 1080p for short range video streaming, It uses the Flight autonomy technology to sense distant obstacles up to 15m and thus reduces accidents. Mavic Pro uses satellite positioning for hovering in an unobstructed outdoor and for indoors, it uses forward and downward vision sensors for a precise hovering. It is having a long flight time up to 27 minutes and can cover a maximum distance up to 13km due to its highly efficient and powerful motors. With the support of miniaturized, highly precise 3-axis gimbal Mavic supports 4K video at 30fps, which is capable of stabilizing the camera during the high-speed motion for a perfect shot. Moreover, with a 12-megapixel camera supported by Adobe DNG RAW, it captures beautiful snaps.
With MAVIC, the Active Track technology allows the user to track anything on the screen and helps the user to shoot like a pro. To make the MAVIC slow and precise, Tripod mode is available and with the Mavic in the air pointing at you, a gesture is all to snap a pic with Gesture Mode.
MAVIC can be easily controlled by the smartphone and with a great user-friendly nature, it allows the user to concentrate controlling the gimbal and capturing photos and videos rather than stabilizing and controlling the flight. Using the TapFly mode, the user is required to just tap where he wants to go and the MAVIC will fly in that direction smoothly to the target. It acts instantly to every instruction of the user and additionally, it also has a DJI GO 4 editor to edit and share the shot instantly with just a few taps. With the high-quality wireless DJI Goggles, the user can see the world through the eyes of a bird.
When using Mavic the user needs to get worried as the drone has two sets of each sensor in case if one goes wrong. While flying in the uneven terrain the MAVIC will stay at the same height level above ground automatically so there is no risk in flying too low. In this both Master and Slave Remote controllers can control the Drone and gimbal with the Master having the Priority and the flight time of 27 minutes makes the user tension free to check the battery level again and again. Moreover, the DJI GO 4 app gives you all these features in a very presentable and easy form.
The Acecore Neo is a highly versatile and sophisticated Drone, designed as a resource for a wide range of applications including film-making. Using highly advanced drone technology, Acecore brings the very best in drone technology. It is a Lightweight and powerful drone with a high agility which can perform even in the challenging environment.Having compatibility with various battery packs to meet the payload range up to 9.5kg. It can be used with any gimbal within the weight range of 9.5 kg and can give the Flight Time of 30 minutes. Additionally, it also has the auto-pilot option.The rainproof construction allows the user to make use of the Neo even in rain or snow. Considering the adverse weather conditions, Motors are inverted to keep them protected in a better way. Neo is lightweight and robust with 93% carbon fiber. With the vibration damping technology and eight powerful brushless motors, it performs very well even in the case of strong winds.
The electronics circuitry is housed within carbon fiber casing and the design of the framework allows air to circulate around the circuit helping to avoid the risk of over-heating in different conditions. The eight motor guarantees the safe homecoming even if one or two motors failing. It is maneuverable and it’s Hovering accuracy is approximately 0.5m in a vertical direction and 2.0m horizontal with Maximum ascent and descent speed of 6 m/s, while the 5% offset positioning of the motors allows the user to control the drone through a smooth descent.
The DJI Innovation have provided the A3 autopilot system software giving the user a full control of the drone. Also, the user has a choice of three autopilot modes and additional features include Go Home and Auto-Landing. N case of the damage to one or more propellers, Enhanced Failsafe technology allows the UAV to continue to travel and land.The range of Acecore Neo lies within a 9,000 feet and a maximum altitude of 9,000 feet.
The Neo package in market includes Neo controller with telemetry, Brushless motors of 1200W, A3 flight controller, Carbon fibre propellers, Gimbal attachment plate, Landing gear, 2 x lithium polymer batteries, 12V bec output, 24V output, Spare parts package (propellers, Servo landing gear, nuts & bolts) and a Manual.
The features of Neo includes HD Video capability with 360 degree gimbal, retractable landing gear, 22k+ for stills, 4k+ quality video, multiple cameras with a flexible gimbal, Enhanced camera control allowing the user to zoom in and out, Superior resolution camera — 36mpx for stills photography, Retractable landing gear to avoid any camera obstruction. The Acecore Neo can be greatly implied into action for surveillance for major public events, gathering intelligence in locations which are difficult to access, photographing incident scenes for evidence, e.g. RTAs (including trials of pioneering 3D imaging), looking for missing person(s), tracking suspects, getting images for assessing risks in emergencies, including hostage situations etc.
DJI PHANTOM 4 PRO
A unique feature of PHANTOM 4 PRO is its Obstacle avoidance capability making it a crashproof drone. Before this, obstacle avoidance systems on camera drones only really helped prevent head-on collisions but the Phantom 4 Pro has cameras on the front and back and both front and rear visual sensors that can detect obstacles up to 98 feet or 30 meters away. Sensors on its belly help it to avoid landing on an unwanted area like uneven ground or water so that the drone don’t get damaged, while infrared sensing systems on both sides allow the drone to figure out its position within a space, recognizing obstacles up to 23 feet or 7 meters away.
The camera has a 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor with 11.6 stops of dynamic range, aperture control (f2.8-f11) and a mechanical shutter. The Mechanical shutter helps with motion artifacts like Jell-O effect, skewed lines, and warped-looking propellers, while the larger image sensor helps to improve the image quality significantly. The camera has a high bit rate of 100Mbps and a maximum resolution of 4K at 60 frames per second.
Also, with the Pro, the user does not need a mobile device to see what the drone is shooting. DJI has offered a Pro Plus version with a super bright display attached to its controller. With the new remote, the user is able to flip the radio frequency between 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz.The Controller is comfortable to hold and the controls for the drone and camera are all within easy reach of the thumbs. It is light enough to comfortably carry in its supplied polystyrene carry case, and the propellers easily clip on to the motors making setup a very simple process. Additionally, it has built-in GPS, an SD card slot, and a Mini-HDMI port.
The Phantom 4 Pro’s new camera features a 1-inch sensor and a mechanical shutter to help with motion artifacts. DJI added a couple new flight modes which are made possible by the obstacle avoidance. It has a good system accuracy so it can fly through narrow environments such as through doorways or windows. The ActiveTrack tracking mode can handle drone’s profile by flying sideways or backward in Spotlight mode. And its TapFly mode, which lets you tap a location on the screen to automatically fly to the target is modified to work backward and the user can rotate the drone or tilt the camera without changing its path. The drone also has an enhanced Return-to-Home mode that will guide it home from up to 300 meters avoiding obstacles along the way. Also, as the Phantom loses its GPS signal, within a minute it will automatically be directed to return to the last connected position and hover there until the next command.
HOVER CAMERA PASSPORT
The Hover Camera Passport from ZeroZero Robotics is a prime example of this trend. Instead of being a jack-of-all-trades, this drone is built specifically for taking selfies and follow footage — so we took it out for a couple weeks of selfie-ing to see how it stacks up against some of the more full-featured drones on the market.
The most significant feature on the Passport is its foldable design. The drone is also equipped with a decent little camera which can shoot video in 4K, stills at 13 megapixels, and even has a built-in flash. The Passport is different from other drones due to the presence of image recognition software, which allows the drone to recognize the face and bodies and maintain its position according to the recognized body/face in space without any aid of GPS. The Passport comes with a suite of various autonomous flying modes. Along with the standards like Orbit and Follow, it has a 360 Panorama function which the user can activate with the touch of a button, as well as a thing called Beast Mode, which lets the user turn off the drone’s software-imposed motor limitations for those times when you need to follow really fast objects.It is designed to fold up like a book when you’re not flying. There is a slim “spine” that encloses the electronics part, and a pair of enclosed propellers under the spine that swings out like pages of a book. When all closed up, the drone is only 1.3 inches (33 mm) tall and weighs just 242 grams with battery included. Another feature is the Passport’s carbon fiber prop cages which protect the propellers from getting damaged when collided with obstacles, even when bashed with a wall it manages to hover without getting any kind of damage.
Passport does not give a high-performance flight. Its top speed is 17 miles per hour, doesn’t have GPS, and has a suggested max range of 65 feet, so It is not as sporty. But This drone was built specifically to function as a flying camera robot and therefore Instead of a super long range, It stay close and follow you wherever you go. Instead of ultra-responsive manual controls, it’s focused on autonomous flight. Even the facial/body tracking software rectifies the need to worry about where the camera is pointing. The Passport also has an accompanying app that gives the user a number of layout options. The user can fly with two virtual joysticks if he is familiar with traditional controls, The user can even turn on tilt mode and steer the drone around by tilting your phone in any direction. With the smartphone-based controls, it’s manual modes do feel a bit loose and imprecise but still, the ability to switch up the control scheme is helpful sometimes. In the Orbit mode, the drone flies in a circle around the user regardless of where the user move and in 360 Panorama mode, the drone will execute a 360-degree spin and then stitch together a single panoramic image.The most impressive modes are the two that make use of the Passport’s image recognition software are Face Track and Body Track. To use these modes, the user simply needs to tap on the face or body that you’d like to follow and the Passport will react to keep the subject in the frame.The Flight Time is about 9 minutes 30 seconds for simple hovering. Considering a bit harder motion, a drop roughly about 2 minutes is seen. It is provided with two lithium ion batteries in the package so the user can consider 18 minutes as the total flight time. For the fully drained Passport batteries, an average of about 47 minutes is required to power up and reach 100 percent again.
Passport can shoot in 4K, 1080p, or 720p but is limited to 30 frames per second regardless of the resolution. It relies on a combination of digital stabilization and a single-axis swivel to stabilize images and doesn’t have a gimbal. Effectively, this means that the user needs to shoot in 1080p if he wants a smooth video since the 4K video is stabilized only along one axis and is likely to be shaky and unstable. In addition to the aforementioned face and body tracking software, Passport features a built-in flash which makes it ideal for snapping selfies and group photos.
The adoption of Drones in India is led by their immense potential. The Government of India is willing to provide a major thrust in the area of development of drones by increasing the domestic budget to approximately $421 million by 2021 to encourage their use in a variety of purposes — crop mapping and surveillance of infrastructure projects. It is expected to see a growth of Unmanned Aviation in India by leaps and bounds over the next few years. Indian UAV non-military operations would focus primarily on the commercial (oil pipelines monitoring, powerlines survey, Digital Elevation Mapping, and agricultural survey) and security ventures (counter-insurgency, coastal surveillance, EEZ monitoring, homeland security, and disaster relief monitoring).
Indian start-ups for UAVs are assisting in the 3-D digital mapping of the Raebareli-Allahabad highway to gather data to compute the compensation for those whose property rights are affected by this project under execution by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). Drone technology will also be used by the Indian Railways for 3-D video mapping of 3,360 kilometers dedicated freight corridor network in order to plan the bidding process. The power to use drones for cheap and efficient monitoring of project development in hilly terrains has been provided by a committee representing the Ministry of Defense, Home Affairs to the state-owned Power Grid Corporation of India. Drones can potentially help to avoid grid blackouts in the power transmission network of India witnessing tremendous double-digit growth annually. Recently, a leading Indian power transmission company sealed a deal with a global player to use large-scale, long-distance flights for utility asset inspection purposes. The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is considering the deployment of drones for solar panel inspection, predictive maintenance, surveillance, and intrusion detection in solar power plants due to their ability to monitor surface integrity, taking measurements and assessing wear and damage. Drone-powered execution of IR detection in solar photovoltaics can have phenomenal benefits for India to achieve its stated goal of a solar capacity of 100 GW by 2022.Coal India seeks permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Civil Aviation to start using drones for aerial surveys of coal blocks for exploration in order to assess the extent of greenery to be restored after the closing of mines. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of India has already been relying on the delivery and tracking capabilities of drones to handle disaster relief and rescue in India.
The safety regulations must be in place for the smooth and efficient conduct of UAV operations in civilian skies. The issues like air traffic management, segregation of air spaces, sense and avoid capabilities, collision avoidance methodology, etc are to be addressed beforehand to ensure that India does not lose out on the capabilities presented by UAVs to the industry.
PROMISING DRONE STARTUPS IN INDIA
· SKYLARK DRONES: It combines the power of Cloud-based intelligence with system-integrated UAVs to enhance a customer’s insight about his assets. It provides cost-effective UAV solutions in sectors like mining, infrastructure, and utilities. It has done projects for the Indian Army, Bangalore Traffic Police Force, Odisha Mining Corporation, Tata Steel Mining Operations, L&T ECC, etc. Today, it has successfully collected and processed more than 300 km and over 10,000 acres of geospatial data in under a year of operations.
· QUIDICH INNOVATION LABS: It aims to futurize industrial solutions across India and speed up survey and development efforts through the proper integration of cutting-edge hardware with intuitive Cloud-based solutions. It offers UAVs as service for agricultural, road and rail corridor survey solutions, urban infrastructure, mining, and search and rescue in its industrial applications. It also caters to agencies from the film industry and filming for documentaries from around the world.
· AIRPIX: It provides data acquisitions and data analytics solutions, giving insights that help enterprises in the designing, planning and project execution stages. It offers services of topographical survey, volumetric analysis, feature extraction for site study and planning, project monitoring, 3-D model reconstruction, crop health monitoring and yield estimation, and inspection of critical assets.
· JOHNNETTE TECHNOLOGIES: It manufactures cutting-edge drones and robots considered to be ‘80% Made in India’. It has a team having more than 20 years of military experience. It offers a range of products for the unmanned industry — Johnnette JR1 (consumer-grade), Johnnette JR3 (industrial-grade; used for aerial mapping, land surveying, and 3-D imaging), Johnnette JR5 (specially designed for DRDO and other research organizations), and Johnnette JF2 (a fixed wing UAV) is almost ready to fly.
· ideaForge: They develop fixed-wing UAV products (NETRA and SKYBOX). They find applications in counterinsurgency, disaster management. Their significant work was during the Uttarakhand disaster and the Pathankot Air Force Station attack. Thier drone was also deployed to use in the famous Bollywood movie — ‘3 Idiots’. Their UAVs are used for aerial inspection, large area monitoring of sites, precision agriculture, and mapping and surveillance for maintenance procedures, homeland security, traffic monitoring, and disaster management.
India maintains and employs a modest fleet of unarmed UAVs that are strictly intended for civilian and paramilitary usage.
DRONES IN INDIA: FROM THE PAST TO THE FUTURE
· DRDO FLUFFY (The early 1970s): With a maximum endurance of 5 min and maximum altitude being 30,000 ft, the target drone built by DRDO’s ADE was used by the Indian Army in the early 1970s.
· DRDO LAKSHYA (1985): It is a target remotely-piloted high-speed drone used for aerial reconnaissance of battlefield and target acquisition. It was developed by DRDO’s ADE. It has a range of 150 km with a rocket assisted launch system (ground or ship launcher) and two-stage parachute recovery.
· DRDO NISHANT (1995): It was developed by DRDO’s ADE and is primarily used for intelligence gathering over enemy territory, reconnaissance, training, surveillance, target designation, artillery fire correction, and damage assessment. With an endurance of 4 hours and 30 minutes, it has an all-terrain mobility and has a maximum payload capacity of 45 kg. It can fly at a maximum speed of 185 km/h up to a range of160 km or 100 miles.
· DRDO RUSTOM (2009): It was developed by DRDO to serve three of the Indian Armed Forces — the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. It is a medium altitude and long endurance UAV with advanced technology Aerodynamic configurations, highly reliable system with built-in redundancy for flight critical systems, Automatic Take Off and Landing (ATOL), digital communication technologies, and high resolution and precision stabilized payloads. Rustom had three drones in this project — Rustom-I, Rustom-H, and Rustom-II.
· PAWAN UAV: It was developed by DRDO’s ADEto be used by the Indian Armed Forces and the Israel Aircraft Industries. With an endurance of 5 hours, the Pawan will be used for day and night surveillance. It weighs around 120 kg and has a maximum range of 150 km.
· DRDO NETRA (2012): It is a product of the combined work of DRDO’s ADE and the private firm ideaForge. It is an autonomous UAV. It is used for surveillance and reconnaissance operations. It operates at an altitude of 300 m with a flight time of 30 minutes. Its range is 2.5 km and it is light in weight.
· NAL/ADE PUSHPAK (2013): It is a micro-UAV with a fixed wing and Dihedral Delta shaped platform.With its nose mounted payload and low wing loading, it provides a flight endurance of 0.5 hours and an operational range of 2 km. It can shoot videos from an altitude of 100 m. It is possible to track its trajectory and destination through the shortest and most secure path through the high-tech GPS system installed on it.
· NAL/ADE GOLDEN HAWK (2012–13): It is a micro-UAV and a product of the joint venture of CSIR’s National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) and DRDO’s ADE. It has a cropped-delta shaped platform and a fixed-wing design providing a flight speed of 10–15 m/s. It also has a range of 2 km and can take videos from an altitude of approximately 80–100 m. It can both function as an autopilot or be remotely-controlled.
· DRDO ABHYAS (2013): A “High-Speed Expendable Target (HEAT)” used by Indian Armed Forces, the DRDO ABHYAS is built by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). It will be launched using a mobile launcher and two rockets. The vehicle will be powered by a gas-turbine engine during its flight. It will be used for air-defense weapon practices, as a jammer-platform, decoy.
· DRDO IMPERIAL EAGLE (2012): It was developed by the DRDO’s ADE for National Security Guard and military services. It has a weight of 2.5 kg with camera holding capacity. It is a mini-UAV and also functions as an autopilot.
· DRDO AURA (2019–2020): It is an Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) being built by the DRDO Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). It will be used by the Indian Army and Indian Navy for combat purposes. It will be a stealthy, flying-wing concept aircraft with internal weapons bay and a turbofan engine making it capable of releasing missiles, bombs, and precision-guided munitions.
The industry of UAV will potentially provide an economic boost and attract global investments. The economic benefits emphasize the need to develop, innovate and deliver better drones in future. However, the rise of drones presents various challenges in terms of personal privacy, public safety, international airspace, civil rights, etc. Therefore, a symbiotic integration of law, tax, and civil liberties shall lead to the bright future of drones in India.
t has been more than fifteen years in the history of UAVs in Japan when the unmanned helicopters were first developed and introduced an efficient way of supplementing the manned helicopters being used to spray pesticides on rice fields. Later, as unmanned helicopters became more useful and the social environment surrounding agriculture changed, the number of unmanned helicopters surged.
In recent years, unmanned helicopters have found applications in pesticide spraying, aerial seeding, and observation of volcanoes (like Mt. Usu and Miyake Island). Recently, the natural disasters occurring in Japan have led to an increase in the number of ways that unmanned helicopters are being used outside of the traditional agricultural field, such as in observation of geological features and landslides. The Japan Agricultural Aviation Association under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, sets standards governing the use of unmanned helicopters for agricultural applications. including pilot training and aircraft registration. An Unmanned Helicopter Consortium was formed in 2002 by the companies Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Kawada Industries, Inc., Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd, and Yanmar Agricultural Equipment Co., Ltd. involved in the development, manufacture, and utilization of unmanned helicopters. They have been investigating standardized safety guidelines, with guidance from the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, concerning the use of unmanned helicopters in applications other than the agricultural sector. The formulation of “low altitude” safety guidelines for unmanned helicopters in commercial use over unpopulated areas was completed by the Consortium in the year 2004.
In future, it will be necessary for the manufacturers, users, and people involved in research, marketing, operation and other aspects of UAVs to work together to ensure practical and uniform implementation of the relevant safety guidelines. It will be necessary to implement safety standards for all unmanned aircraft, especially the unmanned fixed-wing aircraft. Therefore the expansion of the Unmanned Helicopters Consortium was discontinued as Japan witnessed the formation of the Japan UAV Association (JUAV).
The first unmanned helicopters for agricultural use were introduced in Japan more than ten years ago and today the unmanned aircraft is an efficient and adaptive tool to the social environment surrounding agriculture. The agricultural sector is deployed with more than 2000 unmanned industrial helicopters today. This is a field in which further expansion and development are expected of Japan as a world leader in the industrial sector.
The traditional realm of unmanned aircraft has its operators limited to the range of direct visibility. However, the remarkable technological advances have enabled fully autonomous flight for unmanned aircraft, thereby broadening the possibilities for an unmanned flight far beyond the visible range, to altitudes and airspaces which were formerly accessible only by manned aircraft. The remote-controlled computerized system has enabled unmanned aircraft to be used in fields such as observation of volcanoes and typhoons.
DRONE MANUFACTURERS IN JAPAN
· KAWASAKI AEROSPACE COMPANY: It is the Aerospace Department of Kawasaki Heavy Industries and one of Japan’s first aircraft industries. It is involved in the production of aircraft, space systems, simulators, jet engines, missiles, and electronic equipment. It has developed numerous aircraft for the Imperial Japanese Army, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force. It was founded in 1918. Kawasaki is a prime contractor of Japanese Ministry of Defense. It is in the commercial aviation business involved in the joint international development and production of large passenger aircraft, Boeing, 170, 175, 190, and 195 jets, turbofan engines. It also develops and manufactures payload fairings, and Payload Attach Fittings (PAF). It works for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. It provides services to the H-IIA rocket.
· ZERO MOMENT POINT (ZMP) INC.: It was established in 2001. They released the humanoid robot PINO as their first product. The humanoid robots Nuvo and Miuro were introduced in the years 2005 and 2006 respectively. It became a member of the ‘Association for Market Creation of the Future Generation Robots’ to promote the diffusion of robotic technologies in everyday life. It formed a joint venture — “Aerosense” with Sony in 2015 to build commercial drones for survey and inspection of remote areas.
· enRoute: It manufactures multi-copters for commercial applications like land survey, infrastructure inspection, security, and agriculture spraying. It was involved in a project to test long-range drone control where they tested the cellular LTE network.
· Information and Science Techno Systems(ISTS): It provides a number of UAV systems, from fixed wing to helicopter and multi-copter. The Martin line of multi-copter includes the S-I and M-II models. The M-II for transportation infrastructure inspection comes with support for various sensors, including thermal and near infrared and RGB cameras, while the S-I is made for aerial photography applications with support for various models of RGB and infrared cameras.
· Saitotec: It manufactures the Yoroi and Kabuto line of UAV multi-copters. The Yoroi, which includes a new carbon shell design, is a heavy lifting model with two versions that have maximum payload specs of 10kg (22 lbs) and 35kg (77 lbs), and coming with massive wingspans of 1,790mm and 2,400mm, respectively. The Kabuto is Saitotec’s other working drone series which utilizes carbon plating and folding rotor arms for compact transportation. It comes in 4 to 8 rotor versions, with max payload specs of from 2.8kg (6 lbs) to a massive 35kg (77 lbs), and max flight times of 20 to 40 minutes.
· Prodrone: It produced the small camera, waterproof drone PD4-AW capable of a water landing to the 20kg (44 lbs) payload possible. Prodrone also has developed the PD6B-AW-ARM, a version of the PD6B-AW, equipped with two internally-developed robotic arms, enabling it to accomplish a variety of tasks.
· AeroSense: It is a joint venture between Sony and ZMP Inc for the development of drone-based inspection services. The current platform built for their service is the AS-MC02-P multi-copter, which is capable of fully automatic flight missions.
PAST DRONES IN JAPAN
· YAMAHA R-MAX: It is a Japanese unmanned helicopter company. It was developed by the Yamaha Motor Company for the purpose of aerial agricultural response. It used two-bladed gasoline-powered aircraft which could be remotely-controlled by a line-of-sight user. It now provides services in agriculture, reconnaissance, disaster response, and technological development. It uses Yamaha Attitude Control System (YACS) and has an endurance of 1 hour. It can withstand a maximum payload of 28–31 kg.
· KAWASAKI KAQ-1: It is a small, radio-controlled target drone aircraft built with the purpose of training fighter pilots for use in air-to-air missiles, and to train anti-aircraft gunners on the ground. It uses a 72 horsepower (54 kW) engine to reach speeds up to 220 mph (350 km/h) and fly up to over 250 miles (400km). It has a parachute-rigged to its engine mounts for its reusability and recovery. It was used by the armed forces of both Japan and the United States. It has a range of 441 km with a maximum speed of 354 km/h.
Japan has maintained its position as a leader in technology in the world with its great innovations and projects. It is the land of rising robots.
Russia has been increasingly expanding the use of drones in modern warfare in the recent years. Drones are being used for military missions (surveillance, reconnaissance, communications, intelligence, electronic warfare, strike, etc.), domestic security purposes (border patrol, coastal surveillance), and for civilian purposes (search and rescue, prevention of major forest fires, Arctic exploration). Russia lags behind the West in drone technology. It has proved its abilities in developing complex air and space systems and has to master the competencies in the production of UAVs and their designs. However, optics, electronic systems for light aircraft, composite materials, etc are some shortcomings in drone development technologies that have to be improved. Russia has witnessed success in the use of UAVs in military exercises with the number of UAV carried flights being doubled in the year 2014 from the previous year.
Russia’s military modernization originated from its poor performance in its war with Georgia in 2008 with a sweeping program which continues to this day. It’s “New Look” defense reform aims to restructure and professionalize the armed forces creating smaller, fully-manned units equipped with modern systems for large-scale military confrontations with higher levels of readiness and away from the Soviet mass mobilization model. In Crimea, Russia’s armed forces noticeably improved its personnel discipline, personal equipment, logistics, electronic warfare capability, and junior commander training. Russia examined its official defense doctrines as a result of the political confrontation with the swathes of the international community. It updated its Military Doctrine in December 2014 changing the State Defence Plan to avoid NATO’s threat to Russia’s security because of its global reach and the potential accession of new members bringing Alliance military infrastructure closer to the Russian border. A State Armaments Programme (SAP) to seek rearmament of its forces by 2020 and replacing Soviet-era weapons bringing their designated lifespan to an end was initiated by Russia in 2010. The country’s goal is to modernize at least 70% of its equipment by 2020. It was assessed that 32% of the armed forces’ inventory had been modernized by the end of 2014. It is a marker for the scope of its ambition of Russian modernization. Russia bought 30 ICBMs and SLBMs, 2 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), one corvette, 50 small combatants and support vessels, 9 satellites, 80 fixed-wing aircraft (mostly Yak-130 jet trainers), 140 helicopters, 11 S-400 battalions, 2 Iskander-M brigades, 160 artillery systems, thousands of trucks and 60 tactical surface-to-air missile systems. Russian arm procurement pace increased in 2014 and 2015. Putin declared the area of focus of the modernization program from 2016–2025 in 2014. It would involve building nuclear deterrent serving weapons, re-arming strategic and long-range aviation, fully developing and integrating an aerospace defense system, and acquiring high-precision conventional weapons and modern warships”.
Presently, the Russian military is operating 500 drones fleet.
RUSSIAN DRONES: PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE
· ZALA 421–06
It is an UAV helicopter designed and produced by ZALA Aero based in Izhevsk. The UAV with a maximum range of 400 km, a flight duration of 0.5 h, the maximum payload capacity of 3.5 kg, and vertical take-off and landing is adaptive to both autonomous and manual operating mode. It was developed in 2007–08.
· ZALA 421–08
It is a Micro UAV developed by ZALA Aero. It has 2 aerial vehicles with a total weight of 9 kg, a compact ground station, 2 spare power kits and backpack container which makes it small, portable and reliable for transportation. It finds applications in front-line reconnaissance, overground and over-sea surveillance. It requires 3 min launch time and its operating modes are either autonomous or semi-autonomous.
It was developed by Russian Special Technology Centre and is in service at the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. It has a maximum payload capacity of 6 kg with a maximum flight duration of 16 hours. It uses folding catapult launch method and it lands via parachute recovery. It can be operated autonomously or by a remote as well. It finds applications in aerial reconnaissance, observation, monitoring, combat training, jamming, detection of radio signals, and target tracking. It was first produced in 2010 and is being used till date.
It is a long range UAV developed for reconnaissance missions and destruction of detected targets. It is a 5-ton aircraft system using a modular approach. It has a variety of payloads to perform operations of the strike, reconnaissance, and Electronic Warfare (EW) missions using the Khibiny or Brisoglebsk-2 jamming systems. Its design is long wing featuring 2 under-wing turboprop engines and a V-shaped tail. It was built completely in 2014, tested in 2015 and planned for service in 2017.
AFM Servers Ltd., Moscow developed and produced the Ptero-Go UAS. The 4-stroke gasoline engine, the total payload capacity of 5kg are its prominent features. The maximum flight time and distance with a standard payload of 2kg are 8 hours and 800 km respectively. These were supplied to Russian law enforcement agencies and exported to their foreign partners in April 2015.
It is a Tiltrotor convertible UAV developed by VR-Technologies Bureau, Russian Helicopters JSC. It resembles a drone from Terminator. It was implemented as part of a Speed program adopted by Russian Helicopters designed with an objective of creating a flying test-bed to determine the efficiency of design layouts and search for innovative solutions. It can have vertical take-off and landing on restricted launching pads while high speed and large distance cargo/passenger transportation. It made its maiden flight in September 2016.
These are high-tech drones which shall be attached via a cable to Russian Armata tanks. These high-speed drones will fly up to 100 meters and enable to tank to spot targets from far away. This military tech will also have thermal night-vision equipment and radar capabilities. It was announced by Putin in December 2016.
· SCORPION S-3
It was announced to the world in February 2017 that Hoversurf, a Russian company is developing a flying machine called Scorpion S-3. It is a four-rotor hoverbike that uses wooden rotors and a dual joystick control system.
· DRONE TAXI
It is an initiative under the Air Transport as a Service (ATAAS) Solution Landscape of Hoversurf, a Russian company. It shall serve as a transport for future, traffic solution for bigger studies, daily commute solution and would guarantee increased safety compared to ground transportation. Its internal hardware will include FCS in-flight computers, MARK-S drone platforms, and hybrid FPE generators. The software shall comprise of FTS flight management system. It includes two systems — one for flight control and another for the user interface of drone taxi booking and operation. The infrastructure has gas stations, parking. It shall also have legal infrastructure-flight permits and regulations. The first drone taxi commercial is expected to be launched in 2018.
· DOZOR 600
It is a small UAV weighing less than a ton to carry surveillance equipment, radar, and offensive ornaments. It is in the development stage to be used by the Russian military forces against Syria.
It is an UAV with capabilities of flight speed of up to 500 mph and altitude of 40000 feet. It has the ability to launch self-guided missiles and bombs over an operational range of 2500 miles. It is in the development stage.
The Russian Government has announced an expenditure of amount US $9 Billion on its military UAVs by 2020. A technology “Repellent” is in the development process by Electronic Warfare Development Centre (EWDC). It is being designed to protect military bases, warehouses, airfields, and battlefield troops by suppressing enemy UAV communications and disabling their controls to destroy them. The Russian military is busy in improvising their heavy military UAV and drones are a part of the modernization process. Russia has reached the top level in army drone manufacturing.
The U.S. military has been, and remains, a world leader in remote targeted killings. The drone has become central to U.S. National Security Strategy. They provide war managers with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), irrespective of their size. The U.S. military’s fleet of drones varies by size, shape, and sophistication, from the army’s hand-thrown Ravens to the air force’s Global Hawk, which can reach altitudes of sixty thousand feet. The drone funding stood at around $284 million in the year 2000. The Pentagon planned to spend close to $3 billion on drones by the year 2016. Indeed, the Pentagon’s inventory of drones increased forty-fold between the years 2002 and 2010. It owns a fleet of around eleven thousand drones today, hundreds of which are weaponized.
Drones have been used for decades in various forms. One of the first recorded uses was by Austrians in July 1849 after they launched around two hundred pilotless balloons mounted with bombs against the city of Venice. Samuel P. Langley developed a range of steam-powered aerodromes i.e. unpiloted aircraft that were flown successfully along the Potomac River near Washington, D.C. The ninety-second flights gave a glimpse of the future in the hovering aerodrome. The practice of aerial surveillance later emerged in the 1898 Spanish–American War when the U.S. military used a camera fitted to a kite to produce the first aerial reconnaissance photographs. Aerial surveillance was used extensively in the World War I.
The evolution of U.S. drones can be understood as the passage of five overlapping phases.
· PHASE 1: THE TARGET DRONE — The drone was used as a practice target for military forces in the early twentieth century. Developed in UK and US military shooting ranges, it was of use by the U.S. Army. Some iconic drones were Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane and Kettering Torpedo.
· PHASE 2: THE FLYING BOMB — In the interwar period and into World War II, the drone was imagined as a kind of flying bomb to deliver ordinance across the enemy line. They were trialed across the English Channel and used by the U.S Air Force to cross the battlefield and bomb the nation state. Some iconic drones were Glide Bomb and Modified B-17 Bomber (Aphrodite).
· PHASE 3: THE SURVEILLANCE DRONE — During the Cold War, particularly after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the drone was seen as a viable surveillance platform able to capture intelligence in denied areas. Under the institutions of U.S. Air Force and Strategic Command, drones were used across North Vietnam, Cuba, and China for the surveillance of the battleship and to capture photos i.e. to photograph denied or dangerous areas. Various Firebee drones, also known as Lightning Bugs, are the iconic drones of this phase.
· PHASE 4: THE HUNTER-KILLER DRONE — Post-September 11, 2001, U.S. Air Force, CIA, and JSOC used drones in a military manhunt during the war on terror in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The drone has been weaponized, fusing surveillance and killing, therefore becoming a combined hunter–killer, or a predator. Iconic drones of this phase are the Predator, the Reaper drone, and the Raven.
· PHASE 5: THE POLICE DRONE — The fifth stage sees the drone refashioned as a policing technology in domestic law enforcement. Drones are being used by the Police Forces in the U.S. and Customs and Border Patrol in the cities in the global North, used by hobbyists and criminals, to swarm the street and protect the VIP buildings. Various quadcopter drones are being used in this phase.
Drone advancement is allied to the relationship between law and technology. It is involved in the production of geographic knowledge and surveillance, target acquisition, and wider economies of life and death.
FAMOUS DRONES OF USA
· AEROSTAT: These are 200 ft. long tethered fabric balloons filled with Helium that float 15000 ft. in the air from a single cable. They can lift weight up to 1200 pounds, including a camera that pans 360 degrees for constant real-time surveillance. Their virtue is that they can stay aloft for months at a time, carrying a heavy load of intelligence equipment. Their shortcoming is that they cannot be moved rapidly fo new assignments.
· REAPER: The 36 ft. long Reaper, also called the “Hunter-killer” aircraft is the largest armed drone. It can detect humans and can fire Hellfire air-to-surface missiles. It could soon replace the better-known drone Predator. It has a 66 ft. long wingspan.
· PREDATOR: It is a 27 ft. long drone with a 55 ft. long wingspan. It is the Cessna-size workhorse that has dominated remotely piloted flight since the September 11, 2001, attacks. The Pentagon has 169 Predators in its inventory.
· X47-B: It is the Navy’s prototype combat drone, and the first combat drone to take off from an aircraft carrier and land on it. It is 38 ft. log and has a 62 ft. long wingspan. It took its first successful test flight (of 29 minutes) on February 7, 2011.
· GLOBAL HAWK: The 44 ft. long UAV, having a wingspan of length 116 ft., is the largest flying drone. It is sometimes described as the “Flying Albino Whale”. Although linked to humans on the ground, Global Hawks fly mostly on their own, guided by GPS co-ordinates they download from the satellite. They were deployed to Afghanistan in 2001, providing commanders with battlefield images. The Global Hawk flies higher than the Predator and can stay up longer — for almost two days.
The Government of Canada wants to buy at least three high-altitude UAVs for Arctic surveillance. Government agencies want to use drones for disaster relief, border surveillance and wildfire fighting. The private companies are planning to use drones for a wide variety of tasks, such as inspecting pipelines and spraying pesticides on farms. Recreational drones became popular in the United States in 2015, with a sale approximation of one million by the end of the year.
It is predicted by the U.S. Aviation Officials that there will be 7 million drones in the sky by the year 2020, 2.7 million of which will be used for commercial purposes. Drones are expected to be the most dynamic growth sector within aviation in a few years. The biggest commercial users of drones would be the real estate, agriculture, and insurance industries. The president-elect is in favor of resuming law enforcement access to military equipment. The domestic drone industry shall see a rise in the number of government clients for drones and its interference technology. It seems like yesterday the drone industry was hovering on the horizon, waiting to realize its immense potential. However, drones won renewed attention from investors and manufacturers in the year 2016 for their innovative solutions in an array of commercial applications.
The greatest impact of drones will be felt in the future. Drones in the sky, drones in the sea, drones on land — the future of human augmentation lies within.
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With the advancement in the drone technology, some might think that drones could become the most dangerous and annoying devices on earth, which could be true in most of the cases without proper protections. The same drones that we are using for food and product delivery could be used to transfer bombs and other illegal materials. Eventually, with the implementation of proper monitoring, powerful law and security, the positive aspects and pros of this technology will outweigh the cons and the right systems would be developed to make it all workable. As we move ahead on this path, we’ll be unleashing millions of new opportunities and startups which will drive the economy for decades to come. There may be various future applications in the fields of Disaster Aid and Healthcare, Natural Science and Research, Journalism and Photography, Early Warning System and Emergency Services, Marketing and Business Activity Monitoring, Gaming and Sporting, Farming and Agriculture, Military and Spy Uses, Educational and Library and many other fields.
DISASTER AID AND HEALTHCARE
It’s a really difficult task to search for the survivors in cases of calamities like floods, wildfires, or nuclear fallout, as in these types of emergency situations the aid workers are required to put their own lives at risk. So to handle situations like this drone technology could be utilized as various drones can be built to fly smartly in any environment and withstand extreme temperatures and radiation. Also, with the help of the camera, better perspective can be obtained when searching for the victims in areas of low visibility. Moreover, drones can be used by the healthcare workers to deliver medicine, vaccines, and care packages to the people at remote locations, Already a team led by George Barbastathis is working on the same. In the field of healthcare the different drones would serve various tasks like Canary Drones could be used to test the air quality inside mines, Body Sphere Monitoring can be done by the swarm of micro drones which will monitor any changes in a person’s energy field, Hovering Health Monitors could be able to do the Real-time tracking, measuring, and analysis of body movements, Infectious Disease Monitoring Drone that will give an alert whenever there is a close proximity with someone carrying a contagious disease.
NATURAL SCIENCE & RESEARCH
The small size and the ability of drone to go through the tight locations which may be out of reach for humans helps to explore the moments and scenarios that we’ve never seen before and thus play a major role in the research and discovery like in Archeology the structures beneath the desert floor could be uncovered using drones equipped with heat-sensing cameras to obtain the thermal images, which helped the researchers to locate the buried structures. Drones can come out to be a great resource to study natural science like in making Wildlife documentary by chasing specific animals (Whale Watching, Bird Migration, Tiger family etc.) for months and capture the amazing and most rare shots which could otherwise be quite dangerous. As NASA already have sent a drone to examine the interactions between water vapor and the ozone layer so likewise In the future, It is probable to send drones down into the depths of the earth. Similarly, the analysis of Forest health, Ocean Currents, Aurora Borealis and monitoring of solar flare and earth noise could be done by the drone technology with greater precision.
JOURNALISM & PHOTOGRAPHY
Drones have been already started to be used for information gathering purposes and could be evolved to be used in crime scenes, natural disasters, and other hard-to-film events. The journalism drones will highlight their presence and would be widely effective once the ban on drone use in populated areas is lifted, which could be possible with the proper and secure management in future. In journalism, drones could be used for the Accident/Incident Monitoring, as Time-Lapse Weather Drones to capture the big picture over a period of time from virtually any angle, to address gathering, to interview common people on the street, as Locker Room Drones to do rapid interviews with athletes after their event and as a Real-Time Stats Drone. Whereas in the field of photography the drones have already begun to show their involvement as in Real Estate Photography and professional photography of beautiful scenes.
EARLY WARNING SYSTEM AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
To provide the early warning of the upcoming disaster drones would be equipped with the required sensor swarms capable of detecting tiny changes to our atmosphere and provide a warning about the corresponding disaster like Earthquake, Hurricane, Tsunami and Tornado. Moreover the drone will be capable of providing the emergency services and could serve as Forest Fire Preventers (using Infrared sensors), Hail Preventer, Avalanche Preventer (using thermo-sensors), Missing human Drone (to track missing human), Insect Killing Drones, Endangered Species Drone (which signals when any endangered species faces danger) and also as a Missing Pet drone to find the missing pet and many will pay dearly to find a missing pet.
MARKETING AND BUSINESS ACTIVITY MONITORING
For the Marketing purpose Drones could be used ahead for Spot Advertising (Projecting momentary images in front of the target audience), Subliminal Advertising (Projecting artistic images each with hidden messages), Banner Pulling Drones, Flying Strobe Drones (To draw a crowd) and Multimedia Formations (Swarms morphing and shape-shifting into giant three-dimensional logos). The drone could also be used to enhance the business performance by monitoring business activity like Construction Monitoring (Real-time monitoring of building projects), Topological Surveying (Rapid surveying systems to speed development projects), Power Line Monitoring Drones (to check for problems and signs of danger), Sensitive Product Shipping (Monitors shipping and handling of delicate products from manufacturer to the customer), Open Seas Pirate Monitoring Drones (to keep check for the Pirates in seas) and Geological Surveying (Next-generation mapping done to find reserves or oil and mineral deposits).
GAMING AND SPORTING DRONES
The world of gaming can be far more interesting and full of adventure and increased entertainment value using drones. The drones could be used in gaming like Three Dimensional Chess Drones (in which we can fly the knight or rook and place in the desired position), World of Warcraft in Space (augmented reality drone games will give a completely new dimension to gaming), Three Dimensional Treasure Hunts (using drone to Find different objects in different places), Drone Combat Matches (in which the drones will fight against each other and the ultimate survivor is the winner). Drone Racing (racing of different drones in a given pathway), Drone Obstacle Courses (providing training for aspiring drone pilots), Personal Trainer Drones (that will guide you for a proper work out), Marathon Trackers (that will follow the progress from miles away.
FARMING AND AGRICULTURE
As the cost of operating drones drops, they will reach a point of efficiency where it becomes profitable to have a micro drone pick and transport a single kernel of wheat 1,000 miles to its final destination. With large number of farming and agricultural benefits, the drones could serve as Artificial Bees (by helping to do rapid pollination), Seeding Drones (in which swarm bot will plant single kernel at a time), Insect Monitoring Drones (by doing Rapid identification of different insects, bugs, worms, and mites), Fertilizer Monitoring Drones, Disease Monitoring Drones, Bird Frightening Drones (to keep the birds away and is used for crops like sunflowers where birds can destroy an entire field in a small time) and Harvesting Drones (used to harvest single kernel at a time).
MILITARY AND SPY USES
Under the military usage the drone technology is presently used for Missile Launching and Bomb-Dropping and can be further developed to be used as a Flying Camouflage Drones (that will Visually mask everything nearby), Communication Disruptors (that will create a zero-communication zones over the targeted areas), Battlefield Medical Supply Drones (to provide source of supplies and equipment for battlefield injuries instantly), Invisible Spy Drones (small-sized drones with rolling, jumping and flying capabilities) and Solar-Powered Drones (facebook and google have already purchased the solar-powered drone “Ascenta” and “Titan Space”, The designs of planes in this category are ultra-lightweight and can remain aloft for up to five years). In the coming time, for search and rescue missions and also to track down criminals, police will use drones. The drones will be cost-effective and a good alternative to the manned helicopters. The various police drones would serve different tasks like Drug Sniffing Drones which would be faster and more versatile than bloodhounds, High-Speed Chase Drones to chase down the lawbreakers, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Monitor Drones for the Remote Monitoring of volatile situations to provide a close scrutiny, Security Guard Drones to ensure the security of a particular area by patrolling.
EDUCATIONAL AND LIBRARY DRONES
Education field uses the drone to create Geometric Shapes (Using appropriate maths to calculate areas, volume, area and relationship, drones used to form patterns in space), the Question & Answer Drone (It will provide us with a series of questions to challenge our understanding of our environment and the correct answers will be given after three attempts), the Documentary Drones is used to take the stable aerial footage, the Language Partner Drone will help to improve language skills by conversing in that particular language, the Basic Math Drones which will help to solve Real math problems done with three-dimensional examples. As we enter the drone era, the library will come up with some interesting new dimensions like Tool Loaning Libraries (will allow you to Borrow a drill, wrench, socket set, welding torch, hammer, plane, power saw, soldering iron, or more), Emergency Equipment Loaning Libraries (will allow you to ask for the Emergency generators, emergency lighting, first aid kits, etc.), Pet Lending Library (will provide the service to fly your pet to you when asked for), the basic library services from books to video study material will be delivered right to your home), Expert Library (in this a Flying video screen with a live connection with an expert who will answer your questions) and a Drone Lending Library (to borrow a drone, and It will come to you).
Oddly enough, our need for flying cars would be replaced by the flying drones. The flying drones would be differentially present as Taxi-Limo Drones, Bar Hopping Drone, Tourist Attraction Drones, Emergency Rescue Drones, Trucking Drones and Overnight Sleeper Drones.
ROBOTIC ARM DRONES
Drones equipped with the robotic arm would serve to perform many different tasks of picking and placing. These drones would be serving as Transport Drones, Rescue Drones, Chess Playing Drones, Arm Wrestling Drones, Spot-Welding Drones, Mechanical Repair Drones etc.
SMART HOME DRONES
As the Smart Home technology is building up, It is highly probable to have drone’s involvement for the smarter functioning. Dusting Drone could emerge to Cleans walls, shelves, and virtually every surface, Leaf Raking Drones could serve a great task in the garden, Home Security Drones would be ready to spot the problem whether the threat is coming from the sky or ground and alert the authorities and 3D Printer Repair Drone could be used to print a perfect patch every time a crack or damage occurs.
As Drones have already begun to be used for the delivery purposes, It may be further used as Post Office Box Drones, Medical Prescription Delivery Drones, Grocery Delivery Drones, Anticipatory Delivery, Send-It-Back Return Drones and Banquet Catering Drones etc.
The drones presently serves as the source of entertainment by just taking flight and performing stunts in the air but later it will wider the field and would be used as Comedian Drone which could perform random acts of comedy, Magician Drone which could perform random acts of magic, Concert Swarm in which the sound will be coming from 1,000 speaker drones simultaneously, Drone Circus and Performance Art, Prankster Drones that will send random stuff to random people and video their reactions and Firework Drones.
The Ranching drones will be used for Tracking animal movements, pregnancies, weight gains-losses, and any signs of danger. The different form of livestock will require different sensors, tracking systems, and monitoring equipment.