What’s new with drones?

New developments in the unmanned aerial vehicle world will potentially make flying drones safer.

We have previously touched on the advantages that drones can bring to the retail industry.

The latest developments from the UK air traffic control service (NATS) could help to make this more of a reality. Working in partnership with Altitude Angel to create an automated UK drone-tracking system, drones and passegners planes may soon fly along safer routes, providing a better visual of all vehicles & their intended paths.

Such innovations will allow commercial operators to fly drones over much longer distances and the technology could be trialled as early as the end of this year.

A logistics drone takes to the skies.
Above: drones could completely change the way that some retailers deliver their goods.

Global retailers such as Amazon have already envisioned using drone-based deliveries to revolutionise their services. UAVs that are able to fly beyond the pilot’s line of sight – which they are restricted to by law – could vastly expand the logistics of goods deliveries.

As Dr Ravi Vaidyanarhan, from Imperial College London, argues: “Drones flying beyond line of sight would be a very big deal – the scope of operations just changes dramatically.

“One could argue that if a drone has to be limited to being within line of sight, as at present, then it’s probably easier to drop the package off yourself.”

Better tracking systems for drones would certainly help to allay some fears that this kind of aerial technology often precipitates. Arguably laws that restrict when and where unmanned vehicles can be flown are to prevent collisions and breaches of privacy.

Accidents do happen. Recently a drone owner in the US was charged with starting a forrest fire which destroyed 300 acres of grassland in Kendrick Park, Arizona. The fire reportedly began after the drone caught fire following a crash-landing, quickly igniting dry grass in the area.

But when operated safely and within a regulated environment, unmanned aerial vehicles have the potential to revolutionise certain sectors of business. Professional companies now offer safe, regulated drone capture services.

The sector where drone use is considered to be most revolutionary is construction.

The ways in which UAVs are put to use in this line of work demonstrate that these are thought more highly of than just high-tech toys. Drones are sophisticated devices, allowing contractors to carry out surveys, inspections, and other tasks which mean that staff are kept away from potentially dangerous areas.

Additionally, up-to-date images and data provided by cameras affixed to drones can also improve communication and collaboration between various parties involved with a particular project, whether on or off site.

Utilising drones and cameras allows for images with greater perspective on a subject. This can offer a wider variety of angles and help to create more dynamic mediated narratives.

In the event & leisure industries, drone footage is increasingly used for marketing purposes. Take this exclusive first look at the Wicker Man, for example, the newest roller coaster at Alton Towers Resort.

A drone was able to capture from angles that would not have been so easily accessible. The sweeping movements over and around the Wicker Man are made simple using such aerial technology. A unique perspective of the ride is offered that would not otherwise have been seen by human eyes, even those riding the new roller coaster.

Despite some operational complications, then, it is clear to see from this handful of examples that drones continue to contribute to various sectors in many respects, especially creatively and logistically.

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