Five Surprising UAV Applications

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “drone?” Those of us in the military electronics industry think of the MQ-9 Reaper, the RQ-4 Global Hawk, and the rugged, high-power assemblies that go into these remarkable aircraft. While we prefer to call them unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned aerial systems (UAV and UAS), drone has become the more common term – sometimes with negative connotations.

In reality, there are many practical applications for UAVs that don’t have anything to do with classified military operations. Independent research institute SRI International recently blogged about the benefits of UAVs. For example, UAVs have the ability to:

  • Save lives – Survey damage, locate stranded and injured victims, and assess ongoing threats without risking the safety of rescue teams and first-responders
  • Support law enforcement – Search for lost children, provide tactical surveillance and suspect tracking, assist in accident investigations and monitor large crowds
  • Contribute to safe infrastructure maintenance and management – Inspect the underside of a bridge or the top of a skyscraper with fewer risks and costs
  • Streamline agriculture management – Observe, measure and respond to variability in a crop management system so farmers can improve yield and conserve resources
  • Give media access to hard-to-reach places – Capture aerial photography for a news broadcast or a blockbuster film efficiently, economically and safely

UAVs are in demand by both government and commercial entities because some of these aircraft can cruise for more than 30 hours at altitudes above 50,000 feet. The technology onboard UAVs is consistently improving, and is closely regulated. In fact, some UAVs use synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems powered by the amplifiers manufactured at dB Control. You can read more about how UAVs are being used for Homeland Security in our case study.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported the increased use of drones for underwater exploration, and in another article, noted that more than 50 institutions, including universities and law enforcement agencies, have received approvals to operate remotely piloted aircraft.  Ryan Calo, who conducts research into privacy and robotics at Stanford Law School, said that the domestic use of drones will likely grow as more machines are brought back from war and as prices fall. He theorized that the use of drones could spark debates because people aren’t accustomed to such technology. What do you think?

 by Steve Walley, Vice President of Business Development