UAV is not a 4 letter word
We’ve come a long way since “Rosie the Robot” was dusting the furniture of the Jetson’s futuristic home
Welcome to the age of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs. No don’t be alarmed - it’s not a case of “Rise of the Machines” in a Terminator movie; rather it’s an opportunity for UAVs and drones to make
our lives better and easier.
A UAV is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. Its flight is controlled either autonomously by onboard computers or by theremote control of a pilot on the ground or in another vehicle. The typical launch and recovery method of an unmanned aircraft is by the function of an automatic system or an external operator on the ground. UAVs come in all shapes, sizes, configurations, and characteristics from a small model airplane to the relatively large Air Force reconnaissance platform called Global Hawk. Other common names used for UAVs include drones,remotely piloted vehicle(RPV), remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), and remotely operated aircraft (ROA).
Traditionally UAVs were used for Intel gathering or video collection. My first dealings with UAVs and video were back in the late 90s when UAVs and full motion video were in their infancy. The video from a camera mounted in the UAV was recordedon VHS tape for viewing later. We provided the ability to edit and store the video which at that time was a big deal.
Of course we’ve come a long way since then but we’ve only touched the surface and there’s still a long way to go. UAVs are still usually deployed for military and special operation applications, but they also used in a small but growing number of civil applications, such as policing andfirefighting, and nonmilitary security work, such as surveillance of pipelines. UAVs are often preferred for missions that are too "dull, dirty or dangerous for manned aircraft. Beyond the military applications of UAVs with which "drones" became most associated, numerous civil aviation uses have been developed, including aerial surveying of crops, acrobatic aerial footage in filmmaking, search and rescue operations, inspecting power lines and pipelines, and counting wildlife, delivering medical supplies to remote or otherwise inaccessible regions.
Other positives include they don’t complain and they don’t mind working overtime and holidays. For our military they help keep soldiers out of harm’s way. They also provide quicker reaction than other means while covering wide areas.
In any case, UAVs and Video Surveillance are with us to stay. You are starting to see them being used more and more. There was a commercial recently showing precise
GPS coordinates being coded into a drone which then delivered of a case of beer to thirsty fishermen in an ice shanty. You’ve probably also heard or seen that Amazon is experimenting with delivering packages to customers via UAV drones. Other emerging uses include those shown in the following table.