Drones are an incredibly immature technology, but there is hope!

Despite our international obsession with drones—both their awesome powers and terrifying repercussions—the truth is that they’re an incredibly immature technology.

And, like most immature technologies, that means they’re not quite all they’re cracked up to be.

In fact, drones are severely limited by a whole heap of engineering issues that are stymying their widespread adoption. Here are some of the biggest issues holding them back—and the ways engineers are planning to fix them in the future.

Pitiful Power
One of the major charms of drones—aside from the fact that they’re unmanned—is that they’re light and nimble. But their small size and low weight comes at a cost: They can’t carry much in the way of payload, or power source, for that matter. Look up the flight time of most drones and you’ll be sorely disappointed. Parrot’s $500 AR Drone 2.0 can only manage 12 minutes on a standard battery, while even AeroVironment’s military-spec Shrike VTOL only achieves 40 airborne minutes. They’re both commercial copters, admittedly, and fixed wing designs can fly a little longer: the Sensefly eBee, for instance, can manage up to 45 minutes if you’re lucky, and winged military drones can stay airborne for an hour or two. Whichever way you look at it, it’s

Battery Life Is the Only Spec That Matters
So what’s the problem? Well, just like in every other area of technology, battery science just hasn’t kept up with the rate of innovation. “Time of flight will improve but slowly, because battery technology is still poor,” explains Henri Seydoux, CEO of Parrot. Sure, there’s floods of battery research going on across hundreds of universities and industrial research and developments labs, but in the past decade battery tech has barely improved. Lithium-ion remains the best bet, and that’s still heavy and of limited capacity. What’s required for drones is a low-weight, high power density power sources, and batteries won’t be able to deliver that for some time.

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Source: gizmodo.com

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