One of the robotic aerial vehicles that have multifunctional application and can be used for three pillars of sustainability mentioned above are drones and, particularly, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). They are used by small children for fun, by industries for commercial purposes and by countries to defend and protect national interests.
With the extending popularity of aerial technologies and because of innovativeness and therefore lack of awareness, definitions are overlapping enough to confuse. We would like to specify the meaning of the terms which are sometimes misused without clear understanding especially in media. (Picture 2)
Currently, varieties of drones on the market are impressive. The mass of drones can range from a few hundred grams up to ten kilograms, has a size range from 3 cm to 2 meters in diameter and may be applied in different sectors.
However, despite the diversity, the general principles of functioning of drones and their set of basic elements which are present in the construction of every remotely controlled aerial aircraft whether for recreational or commercial purposes are quite similar.
An Unmanned Aircraft or Aerial System can be divided into three succinct elements:
The vehicle or platform itself (Picture 3)
The picture above illustrates component parts of it.
A frame is the basis of a drone, which all its components are attached to. The main task of developers in the manufacture of the frame is to make the drone as shockproof, light and durable device as possible. Every motor (there are 4) is attached to one propeller and sets it in motion with the speed generated by the rotation controller. The rotation controller sets the speed based on commands received from the flight controller.
The base structure of a flight controller is the following:
The main processor (is responsible for processing commands)
Gyroscope (determines the position in space)
Barometer (determines the height)
Accelerometer (analyzes a device’s accelerations in three planes – x, y, z)
Direction arrow (indicates the direction of flight)
GPS (determines the location of the drone)
Wi-Fi (for communication with external devices (tablet, smartphone, PC))
RAM (Random Access Memory)
The final composition of the flight controller depends on the cost of a drone. While the simplest drones can only control the rotation of the motors depending on the incoming commands at that time, the most advanced can, for example, return to the launch point. Another important element of the drone is the battery. Its capacity influences the maximum altitude at which the drone can climb, as well as the range and the flight time. Yet solar panels may increase drones’ endurance.
Its payload which consists from:
Electro-optical Sensing Systems and Scanners
Dispensable loads (Munitions, flares, sondes, another)
Its Ground Control System or Station and following elements of it:
An avionics flight display
System Health Monitoring and Prognostics Display
Graphical Images and Position Mapping
Secure Communications Systems
Inward Data Processing (Picture 4)
Top Uses of Drones for Non-Military Sectors
The possibilities how drones may be applied can be found in practically every sphere of life – in the public or private sector, and in the military domain. The last one is associated the most with the term „drone”. But we want to emphasize wide range of application of a commercial type of a drone.(Picture 5)
That is only a part of tasks drones are able to perform. The potential of drones is huge as their opportunities are extending every day.
Because of the growing number of drones, especially, in the possession of private individuals, regulatory law are appearing worldwide to provide safety. Ethical and legal issues regarding the exploitation of drones are rather common in the most of the countries. This results in the relative universality of the system of rules.
Referring to Germany, an empirical evidence of it is an amendment to the Air Traffic Licensing Regulation and the Air Traffic Regulation entered into force on April 7, 2017. The amendment introduced mores stringent rules for the operation of commercial drones. In addition, the new rules will also be applicable to the operation of model aircraft. The Air Traffic Act defines unmanned aerial systems (UAS), commonly called “drones,” as “unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), including their control stations, which are not used for hobby or recreational purposes.” If on the other hand, the UAVs are merely used for hobby or recreational purposes, they qualify as “model aircraft.”
Referring to drones as unmanned aerial systems for commercial purposes, they have numbers of advantages.
Drones are neither affected by human factors such as inattention, fatigue, sickness, existence of bad habits nor can be influenced by person’s own gain that keep pace with corrupt practices
Identification and notification time is on a higher level and is not commensurate with a reaction of an average person
While human life may be under the threat and the probability of getting injured or, even worse, die in carring out of duties is high, drones minimize such workplace accidents.
No commitment of illegal actions (it’s not a part of UAV’s programming)
In financial terms, robotic drones may be one-time funding in contrast to the human labor force that requires financing.
Maintenance service. Nevertheless, the last advantage regarding financial side is quite controversial since it may simultaneously cause problems. It is obvious, there is limited knowledge regarding any innovation. That is why such procedures as fixing or updating software for drones are not available widely and require some additional amount of money and respectively some extra time to find a suitable service provider.
The most widespread use of the commercial drones is a multi-copter form of unmanned aerial vehicle, because of its vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability. However, due to the structural characteristics, it has a disadvantage that the flight time is quite short, which is typically ranging between 15 to 30 minutes. The fixed wing type of unmanned aerial vehicles has a longer flight time and duration, but it is not easy to secure a safe landing space, especially in the city areas. It is more likely that a bigger air frame affects the flight time. For drones that use electric motors, the battery capacity is directly related to the flight time. However, a bigger battery size inversely affects the payload capacity. According to the analysis of three types, it appears that the fixed wing type VTOL drones with no tilting mechanism are getting more and more popular.[i]
An issue of training. For the small sizes drones there is no obligation to be trained and to receive a certificate. Nevertheless, managing a drone is not an easy process. Moreover, in order to fly safely and to get basic knowledge of handling the software training is worthwhile solution. The most basic course includes the following:
Basics of managing quadcopter;
Manual and semi-automatic flying;
Manual and automatic takeoff and landing;
Flight at given GPS co-ordinates;
Maneuvering and obstacle avoidance;
A safe approximation to the object;
Basics of making photos and video from the UAV;
Practical lessons with an instructor.
4. Drones are able to fly everywhere, sometimes even out of our sight. In this way, they can break existing privacy laws, interact with guarded by government objects, hurt someone or damage somebody’s property. That is why, new regulatory laws exist and a possibility to be trained professionaly on managing UAV is available.
Nowadays, a lot of government institutions, private agencies, and other companies have their private drones which help them to be more efficient, productive and independent. The potential of drones in the future is huge. An improvement of its features will make drones even more desired and widespread. In turn, an operator of a drone may become a well-paid and highly promissing job. Consequently, an urban infrastructure will have to adjust to the presence of new smart technology (as Amazon did having patented new typology of buildings (towers for drones) for quicker delivering their goods to customers ) and society must be aware of the possibilities it can provide.