Sky high thinking: Could we all soon own a drone?

Drones – or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – could soon be whizzing across our airspace on all sorts of civil and commercial missions.
Rapid advances in camera, sensing, aeronautics, battery and autopilot navigation technologies have helped make UAVs affordable, easy-to-operate and increasingly reliable for individuals, civil authorities and businesses alike.

Small, vertical take-off or landing (VTOL) multi-propeller helicopters equipped with hi-tech equipment are already saving big business millions of pounds.

John Moreland, spokesman for the UAV Systems Association, the UK’s main industry body, with about 140 members, told the BBC: “Hundreds of these UAVs are being used commercially these days, typically flying below 400ft (120m) and with a range of about 500m (0.3 miles).

“Most are engaged in aerial photography and 3D surveying, but applications are expanding all the time.”

For example, UAVs are being used to carry out aerial inspections of oil refinery flare stacks, fuel tanks, power lines and pipelines. With their ability to access difficult and dangerous areas, they can provide high-definition video, infrared and still images in live situations without the need for shutting down plants and erecting expensive scaffolding. This saves time and money.

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Source: BBC

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