The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, also known as RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) or Drones, has increased substantially in recent years resulting in new applications and disrupting industries along the way.
In this article we are going to comment on the lesser known but highly innovative uses of UAVs and how they will become increasingly popular over time while lazy current regulations catch up with the dizzying pace of innovation offered by this Exponential technology.
The calibration of aid to navigation using unmanned drones with augmented reality.
UAVs will be used as a calibration medium for air navigation aids at airports. In this case the disruptive application of the UAV is the ALS (Approach Lighting System) calibration, specifically the so-called PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicator) located at each head of track. This visual navigation aid helps pilots determine the descent path during landing to optimize and reduce the risk during this flight phase.
The PAPIS have to be calibrated every 6 months, which is usually done by a small manned aircraft that serves several airports and has a high degree of error. Airports sometimes have to wait up to several days (even having requested an emergency calibration in case of system malfunction) due to the low availability of the aircraft performing these calibrations.
In this case the use of UAVs allows a completely autonomous, ultra-fast, eco-friendly and 100% accurate calibration of PAPI lights. Airports always have the system and can be deployed at any time to perform a PAPI calibration independently each time. The UAV has a flight profile such that it intersects all transition zones quickly and effectively, using state of the art sensors and Augmented Reality technology, automatically providing the necessary corrections for airport operators.
Inspection of sewage and closed areas with UAVs
It is a revolutionary way to inspect sewers, significantly reducing costs and minimizing the risk of accidents by preventing access to the sewer system by operators.
These improvements can be achieved thanks to the implemented system, that is, a small quad-camera with a camera allowing a real-time video transmission to the operator who has FPV (First Person View) glasses so that he can see everything as if he were right there, but currently piloting it remotely from a safe area. In this way technicians do not need to enter the sewers and can cover much longer distances than if they did on foot. With this innovative method you can cover distances up to 1km per hour, much higher than the almost 4 hours that it takes to do so today.
In addition to visual inspection to detect obstacles in the pipeline, sensors are used to acquire air and water quality data. All images, videos and data collected are saved and then analyzed in the office.
Collaborative Drones in Construction
A revolutionary application of the UAVs will be the collaboration in construction of safe structures of autonomous form and without supervision.
This method, still in development, uses a motion capture system to know the position and exact orientation of the UAV working in the zone of construction. The system has motion capture sensors observing the operation at all times and capturing data of all the UAVs through markers integrated in them. In this way all the captured data are analyzed by a computer constantly calculating the trajectories thus giving highly accurate navigation indications and corrections to the whole construction system in order to be able to correctly and efficiently build bridges with strings or block structures.
These solutions can be used in places of difficult access such as in remote areas or in very high construction areas, thus improving efficiency and reducing the risk for operators.
Fire Extinguishing Automated Air
The next disruption brought by UAVs is the use of almost automated fire-extinguishing tankers.
The advantages offered by unmanned aerial fire extinguishing are a substantial reduction of costs of the aircraft itself, since its cost is a fraction of the cost of a normal tanker plane, and also partly because pilots are not required to fly. This at the same time reduces the risk of human loss or personal injury in fire-fighting operations such as loading and unloading of water, which carries a heavy load on the structure of the aircraft and has already been a fatal accident in the past.
Because the system has a high degree of automation, its deployment is faster than a normal tanker would be. With the implementation of this system, fewer firefighting personnel could be available in the area, putting fewer people at risk while increasing overall operational capacity and extinguishing fires in less time.
However, we will see more and more applications with new and disruptive UAVs over time, and by the exponential nature of this technology, the pace of innovation will continue to accelerate more and more.
Do you know of any other application with UAVs that deserves to be mentioned here? If so, share it in the comments below.