Drones – The Right Tool for the Job Can’t Just Rely on Batteries
By Dan Erdberg, COO of Drone Aviation Holding Corp.
Technology is great because it helps us complete our tasks efficiently and effectively. Drones are no exception, however, given the global explosion of interest in drones, we must remember to use the right tools for the tasks we expect drones to complete.
What was first developed and used by the by the military for remote surveillance has been embraced by consumers for everything from personal amusement to professional photography and cinematography. Thanks to the lowered cost battery-powered drones, combined with GoPro cameras and the inspiring imagery they are creating, hobby-craft drones are popping up everywhere. The next logical path forward for drones is their use in commercial applications where industrial strength drones can be put to work for everything from agriculture monitoring to pipeline inspection, facility and event security to emergency response and disaster relief. But like any tool, having the right drone for the job is the best way to get the job done and in many cases, that drone cannot just rely on battery power alone.
Today, the vast majority of hobby grade drones are powered by LIPO batteries that provide the sole source of power they need to operate. While impressive, the < 30 minute duration limitation of simple battery power is just one of a number of significant issues limiting commercial adoption of today’s drones, issues including limited payload capacity, uncertain reliability and safety and the legality of simply flying a drone in the national airspace. While technology may eventually overcome some of these limitations, the tasks that commercial-grade drones must perform today and will be expected to complete in the near future require a long flight duration, high reliability and the ability to carry heavier payloads including stabilized cameras with stabilized zoom and day/night capabilities. This is why Drone Aviation Corp has focused on the development and commercialization of tethered drones. While conceptually not completely unlike moored balloons used in World War I, tethered drones, like Drone Aviation’s WATT launched earlier this month, can uniquely deliver the performance, flexibility and cost effectiveness required by commercial customers today.
Drone Aviation’s WATT launched earlier this month, can uniquely deliver the performance, flexibility and cost effectiveness required by commercial customers today.
WATT is a new line of commercial-grade electric tethered drones designed to provide secure and reliable aerial monitoring for extended durations while being tethered to the ground via a high strength armored tether. This makes it uniquely suited for a wide number of news gathering, industrial and emergency response applications where manned aircraft and even free-flying drones are unable to deliver the long flight duration and commercial grade real-time day/night video monitoring capabilities needed. WATT is a complete turnkey system that can be deployed within minutes from unpacking from standard cases stored in a host vehicle such as a news van or mapping base station. When launched, WATT is designed to hover in a stationary position directly above its launch site at one of several preset altitudes of up to 300 feet. Once airborne, a highly stabilized, broadcast quality HD video imager can provide a 360° live aerial monitoring feed transmitted through the tether to its host vehicle and wirelessly shared to whatever broadcast sytem or monitors are being used.
When launched, WATT is designed to hover in a stationary position directly above its launch site at one of several preset altitudes of up to 300 feet.
One thing is for sure, drone developments will continue at a rapid pace as manufacturers creatively address the many challenges facing the commercialization of their drones. Regardless of the design approach taken – tethered or untethered – we have seen the future, a future where drones will become a vital commercial, journalistic, engineering and lifesaving tools.