Thomas Jarzombek, the Federal Government's coordinator for German Aerospace, describes the use of drones as "unmanned flight in the service of man, nature and society" in the foreword to the brochure of the same name published by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy.
Indeed, drones are used today in almost all areas of life. They are real solution providers and gamechangers, quite comparable to the smartphone. They are revolutionising trade and transport and performing tasks that help companies to increase efficiency, save money and develop new service offerings. The American drone service provider "FLYGUYS" summarizes this versatility concisely and appropriately as "The 5 D's for Drone Use": dull, dirty, dangerous, distant and data!
This classification should help potential customers to answer the question whether the use of drones could be worthwhile for them.
They are therefore predestined for companies whose work processes are monotonous or where work processes are continuously repeated, for example in industrial intralogistics or inventory management in large warehouses. The Eyesee drone, which has been specially developed for inventory management, records the inventory within a very short time and reports to the retailer in real time. A process which would take hours if the goods were recorded manually.
Drones are also used in places where it is very dirty or sometimes harmful to human health, such as landfills, sewage treatment plants or refineries. Here drones provide data on possible pollutant emissions or collect important image data, e.g. as a basis for construction planning, without any risk to humans.
On dangerous terrain, drones are the eyes, ears and hands of those responsible. They are used for inspections at great heights, for example of power lines, wind turbines or oil platforms. The human remains on the ground and takes over the data evaluation. UAVs are also playing an increasingly important role in disaster control. When a tsunami destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011, drones assessed the extent of the damage, measured radiation levels and provided important facts as a basis for reconstruction.
Especially in places where it is difficult for humans to reach or look, drones play their full potential. They can survey, inspect and monitor large areas extremely quickly and efficiently, and detect dangers. They also offer a relatively inexpensive and fast way of collecting data from remote or inaccessible locations.
Agriculture benefits from them in several ways. With the appropriate imaging techniques, fertilizers or pesticides can be applied with pinpoint accuracy - even very challenging locations, e.g. in viticulture, can be reached without any problems. Thermal imaging cameras under drones detect fawns in the meadows before mowing and save animal lives. The drone uses the same technology to detect which panel in the solar park is defective. Operators of wind turbines and airlines use HD cameras to search with centimetre precision for the smallest cracks and damage in the structures. The same applies to technical inspections of bridges, dams or towers. Deutsche Bahn tests drones during track inspections.
Drones are also increasingly being used to transport medical supplies to isolated hospitals in places such as Rwanda. In Malawi, a threat flight school trains pilots specifically for this purpose. In Malawi bildet eine Drohen-Flugschule Piloten und Pilotinnen eigens zu diesem Zweck aus.
Speaking of drones, the technology of flying machines is no longer the issue. The focus is on solutions, and these are usually based on data and findings that were collected or made possible by the drone. Whereas a classic survey team would still need about a week to survey large construction sites, today a drone can do this much more precisely within a few minutes in fully automatic flight. Drones are also making smart cities really smart. And not only in the form of air taxis, which are intended to relieve the burden on local inner-city traffic. Above all, they play a key role in the expansion of our smart cities, especially when it comes to real-time data collection, such as measuring air pollution or monitoring traffic from the air.
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