What Are Drones And Will They Change Ultralight Aviation?
Drones aren't a new thing. Unmanned aerial vehicles have been known for many years and used in military operations. But the drones we are going to talk about here are mostly the smaller civilian aircraft that started gaining attention in the last couple of years. The kind of drones that Amazon will be using for delivery services. The type of drones that may be making a new revolution.
These drones are small, don't carry guns, and are used for transporting small items, typically under 1 kg. Even this is enough to make them really important for the aviation and the future. If you want to know about the drones in general, when they were invented and used, where, what types are there, etc, here is an excellent article on the topic.
What Are / Will Drones be Used For?
One of the most notable news about drones in the last few years was the Amazon's plan to use drones for delivery. Amazon already starts testing delivery drones in Canada. Amazon hopes to use drones to deliver all packages up to 5 lbs. Not bad at all, as this covers a huge part of the online orders.
Delivery with drones will definitely be big especially if you consider the growth of online shopping. This is activity that won't change anything for the aviation though - airplanes aren't used for product delivery in the cities.
But there are other places where drones may replace using ultralight airplanes:
Aerial photography. In the past when you needed to snap something from above you had to take off an ultralight airplane and do the photographing or video recording yourself (or using the services of a pilot). Since small cameras with good photo quality were created some photographers started using model RC airplanes for this work. Much cheaper. Now drones who have better control and can lift heighter photographic and video recording equipment will replace even more pilot jobs.
Search and rescue. Search and rescue aircraft will not disappear. But there are cases where you just need to find someone in a small area or urgently bring them some medicine or water. This is when a drone can be used instead of piloted airplane.
Basically any job that required pilot just to see something or deliver a small item will be replaced by drones. This is not that bad - there will still be enough to do with the real airplanes. Drones will help man-guided search and rescue operations rather than replacing them.
So, Can You Have Your Own Drone?
Yes, and it's getting easier and cheaper every day. The prices start of about $50 for small RC drones and go up to $1,000 - $2,000 for professional drones with HD camera, GPS system, wi-fi, live HD view etc. You can buy drones at eBay, Aliexpress, Amazon, other online and offline stores.
The problem now is not where to find a drone, neither to gather the money to own one. You can have it for really cheap. The only real problem is how legal is to use it. We are still waiting for proper legislation in most countries - as usual the law is way behind the technologies.
If you already bought a drone, please share in the comments how much did it cost and where / how you are using it.
Making a Drone Yourself?
On this site we have good tradition to discuss DYI projects because of the many enthusisasts who build airplanes themselves. So yes, you can build a drone too :) Here are a couple of useful links:
- How To Build A Quadcopter
- How to make an entire drone/Multirotor and camera gimbal using laser cut parts
- MyFirstDron.com - guides and reviews about DIY drones
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