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The Maintenance Management Blog
Drones: Aerial Maintenance
February 23, 2016
When people think of drones, they might imagine the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle developed by the military. Others might think of the small quad-copters that some kids get for their birthday and subsequently destroy when they accidentally fly it through the front window of their house. Few realize the potential these drones have for aiding businesses, scientists and emergency personnel with performing their jobs in a safer, more efficient way. Farmers have seen the potential for using drones in their work of maintaining extensive acreage of farmland. Drones have also been useful for fighting forest fires, performing search and rescue operations, and helping after humanitarian crises. The future of drones seems promising, and they have an increasing variety of applications for everyday use.
Farming and Agriculture
Farmers may use drones in various ways. A drone can be a cost-effective way to check crops, land, and farming equipment. Sending people out to physically monitor land and equipment can be an expensive and time-consuming process for farmers. Using drones is often faster and less expensive. A farmer with a drone can send it out to check on fields of corn to assess the health of the crops. The drone can utilize special thermal imaging sensors to detect moisture levels in the soil, which can be helpful for assessing drought conditions. Drone sensors can even detect issues in crops that require fertilization. Armed with this information, farmers can apply specific types of fertilizer to targeted areas. Farmers can also use drones to apply insecticides over crops without utilizing people for this process.
- Drones for Agriculture
- Agricultural Drones May Change the Way We Farm
- Camera Drones in Agriculture Using the Required Engineering Principles (PDF)
- Drones and Their Role in Agriculture (PDF)
- The State of Drones for Agriculture (PDF)
- A Farming Revolution Drones, Sensors, and Technology Are Changing Your Farm (PDF)
- FAQs About Farm Drones (PDF)
- Drone Technology: Addressing Farmer Concerns and Questions (PDF)
- Agricultural Drones (PDF)
- The Evolution of Farming: From Cotton Gins to Drones (PDF)
Drones have a number of benefits for fighting forest fires. Instead of sending manned aircraft into dangerous areas, drones can fly over fires to provide important surveillance. Fire areas often have limited vision due to smoke or darkness. Drones are ideal in these situations because cameras can cut through the darkness to provide needed information. UAVs can also assist with moving supplies and dropping water over a blaze.
- Fire Drones (PDF)
- Automatic Forest Fire Monitoring and Measurement Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (PDF)
- Drones Take Off (PDF)
- Drone Intrusions and Wildland Fire Airspace (PDF)
- A New Eye in the Sky: Eco-Drones (PDF)
- Emergency Service Use of UAS (PDF)
- Unmanned Aircraft Is Latest Firefighting Tool (PDF)
Search and Rescue
Search and rescue operations have begun to use UAVs to find missing persons. Searching for missing people by air has traditionally involved manned airplanes and helicopters. Drones provide increased access to dangerous areas with less risk and expense. High-resolution video cameras can survey areas, sending the video back to professionals who watch the recordings in real time. One UAV can search a large area in a fraction of the time it would take humans to cover the same area. Drones also have infrared technology that can detect heat given off by people, which can help with finding survivors in a disaster.
- Using a Mini-UAV to Support Wilderness Search and Rescue: Practices for Human-Robot Teaming (PDF)
- Drones to the Rescue (PDF)
- Supporting Search and Rescue Operations with UAVs (PDF)
- The Benefits of Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Saving Time, Saving Money, Saving Lives (PDF)
- Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in Search and Rescue (PDF)
- Unmanned and on the Rise (PDF)
Security and Law Enforcement
Law enforcement has begun using drones, as they can be an effective tool for surveillance. A drone equipped with facial recognition software and infrared technology could help law enforcement with locating fugitives. A drone equipped with a camera could secretly monitor and record conversations to capture incriminating evidence. Drones can also assist with tracking vehicles over a large area of land.
- Law Enforcement Guidance for Suspected Unauthorized UAS Operations (PDF)
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Examining the Safety, Security, Privacy, and Regulatory Issues of Integration into U.S. Airspace (PDF)
- Drones Over the Homeland (PDF)
- Armed Drones for Law Enforcement: Why it Might Be Time to Re-Examine the Current Use of Force Standard (PDF)
- Vertical Policing and Drone Enthusiasts: A Qualitative and Theoretical Exploration of Unmanned Aerial Drones on the U.S. Homefront (PDF)
- Domestic Drones: Technical and Policy Issues (PDF)
- Protecting Privacy From Aerial Surveillance (PDF)
- Protocols for the Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) by Law-Enforcement Agencies (PDF)
- Use and Regulation of Drones by Local Government Entities and Schools: Thoughts for Public Entity Pools (PDF)
- Drone Federalism: Civilian Drones and the Things They Carry (PDF)
Tracking storms can be dangerous for humans. Scientists seeking to research thunderstorms and tornadoes have been unable to access the centers of these storms to learn what causes them and how they form. However, drones can fly directly into the midst of storms to measure temperature, air pressure, wind speed, and humidity levels. Scientists are currently attempting to work with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to receive clearance for this research.
- Into the Storm: Using Drones to Track Twisters (PDF)
- Ahead of the Storm (PDF)
- Student Storm Chasers Develop Drones to Probe Killer Tornadoes
- Storm-Penetrating Drones Could Fly Into Tornadoes
Humanitarian efforts often involve providing food, water, medicine, and supplies to people in a disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami, typhoon, or fire. Conditions can often be dangerous for human flight, but drones can assist with humanitarian aid. Drones flying over an area can capture footage of the conditions to enable people to assess them. Cameras can also provide information about the specific location of survivors. Larger drones can even transport supplies to remote areas.
- Unmanned Flight: Legal Challenges of Drones (PDF)
- Drones in Health Care and the Essentials on Conducting an ERM Risk Assessment for Emerging Technology (PDF)
- Drone-Compatible Medical Transportation Pod Design, Development and Testing (PDF)
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Humanitarian Response (PDF)
- Designing Drones to Deliver Aid to Syria (PDF)
Professional Sporting Events
FPV (First Person View) Drone Racing is a new competitive racing sport. Expert pilots will maneuver custom built quad-copter drones through three dimensional courses at up to 120 miles per hour. Future events will take place in places that range from abandoned factories in New York City to the Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins (NFL).
- The Drone Racing League: Learn More
- National Public Radio: Drone Racing League Aims To Be NASCAR In The Air
- Time.com: Drone Pilots Race Around Abandoned Buildings and Football Stadiums in High-speed Showdowns
- Learn About Racing Drones: The Racing Drone Buyer’s Guide