In recent years, the adoption of drones has grown across various markets and applications. In some sectors, drone-based solutions are increasingly being used for typically human intensive work, such as parcel delivery, carrying out surveys and inspections, proactive maintenance, video surveillance and more. During the current Covid-19 pandemic, drones have been used extensively to monitor safety within a containment zone.
Furthermore, AI using deep learning and machine learning has enabled a new type of drone: autonomous drone-in-a-box solutions which eliminate the need for a human pilot.
Drone-based surveillance solutions are being deployed across multiple sectors to execute complex and diverse data gathering exercises, making it possible to survey areas or locations which are difficult to access. Emerging commercial drone applications include monitoring, surveillance, disaster management, environmental management, search and rescue, and infrastructure inspection.
As industries continue to transform and drone technology continues to advance, drones will likely be increasingly adopted for various tasks to improve process efficiency, detect and prevent damage (preventative maintenance), and extend asset lifetimes.
There are numerous types of drones with distinct differences between them, including autonomous drones, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), unmanned aircraft system (UAS), and remotely piloted air system (RPAS).
Two key types are:
Remotely piloted drone system (RPDS)
A RPDS refers to the composite system required for advanced drone operations. This includes the aircraft, the ground control station, and the communications system. This is a semi-autonomous system as it requires a human pilot/co-pilot on the ground. The function of the ground station team is limited to performing the preflight check and to landing the drone upon mission completion. While airborne, the drone works autonomously and follows the predefined and preloaded flight path.
Autonomous drone system
Advances in AI and machine learning have enabled the development of a fully autonomous drone system. The entire preflight, mission flight and landing are managed by the onboard computer which is preloaded and scheduled by the operator through the command-and-control platform. The drone is capable of taking-off, completing its mission, and landing autonomously. Whilst the drone’s communications management software coordinates missions and pilots the aircraft, once the mission starts, the drone can be controlled by the ground team at any point if required.
A drone-in-a-box solution is a newly developed solution which includes a ready-to-fly autonomous drone, a base station (which doubles up as a telemetry control and drone charging station), and an AI powered mission control platform which can integrate with any third-party video management system (VMS).
Drone-in-a-box solutions are becoming increasingly popular due to their fast-paced response, convenience, and accurate data collection capabilities compared to a piloted drone or human patrol. Once deployed, a drone-in-a-box is available around-the-clock to carry out efficient and frequent site and equipment inspections.
Without a ground-based controller (pilot), the drone only needs 30 seconds to set off on a mission and start sending video feeds to the operator console. Autonomous drone-in-a-box solutions can also be controlled by an operator at any time during a mission, such as redirecting flight path and controlling the camera with the use of a joystick.
Communications to and from the drone system are encrypted using the latest industry encryption standards with stringent security hardening processes to provide protection against cyber breaches.
The bottom line
Drones have become an important instrument and resource within the security industry. They can not only increase productivity by mitigating human error but can also dramatically reduce surveillance costs in expansive and difficult terrain.
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