A drone, commonly known as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) – an aircraft without a human pilot onboard, is a data collection tool that is remotely operated by the Remote Pilot. Drones can be operated with varying degrees of autonomy – either fully remote-controlled or have on-board flight-planning software operating in-conjunction with GPS and other sensors. Drones are used recreationally – for hobbyists, or commercially – generating a return on investment (RoI).
Modern drones can carry various different payloads or sensors – 4k camera systems capturing 2D data, which is then processed into a 3D model. Thermal imaging cameras, multispectral sensors and other payloads, i.e a liquid payload containing pesticides or fertiliser to provide the capability for crop-spraying.
The data acquired – not the drone – is the real value for businesses and organisations. The data is captured, processed and then interrogated to enable key decisions to be facilitated.
What types of drones are there?
- Multi rotor – most common, used by professionals and hobbyists. A Tricopter (three rotors), a Quadcopter (four rotors), a Hexacopter (six rotors) and an Octocopter (eight rotors). The greater the number of rotors, the greater the redundancy. The Quadcopter is the most common with an average flight time of between 20 – 30 minutes.
- Single rotor – similar in design to helicopters with a single rotor providing lift and a tail rotor to control the direction of flight. More expensive than Quadcopters with increased endurance powered by a gas motor.
- Fixed wing – uses a wing like an aeroplane to generate lift, unlike multi-rotor. Fixed wing drones are commonly used for mapping large areas and surveillance. The downside is they don’t have the ability to hover like a multi-rotor.
- Fixed wing VTOL – a hybrid solution combining the capabilities of vertical take-off-and-landing with fixed wing.
What regulation is in the UK?
There are different regulations in the UK for recreational and commercial pilots. Recreational pilots, since 5 November 2019 must have completed on-line training and registered their drone(s) with the CAA. https://www.caa.co.uk/Consumers/Unmanned-aircraft/Our-role/Drone-and-model-aircraft-registration
Commercial organisations must have a Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) to operate commercially within the UK and must comply with the Air Navigation Order (ANO). Permissions and exemptions for commercial work involving small unmanned aircraft and drones
Paragon Drones Ltd have a valid PfCO issued by the CAA and are compliant with all regulatory requirements.
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