Drones for pizza delivery, drones used in war. Obviously, the technology is evolving and we wanted to know more about it. Zintro experts provide an overview, insights, and info on drones.
Jeffrey Curtiss, an expert in general aviation engineering, says there will always be a need for pilots in cockpits. “However, with the current state of avionics technology, drones will assume a broader role over time. At present, the military employs drones extensively for surveillance and hunt-and-kill operations. Although expensive, drones are expendable, and the loss of an asset does not cost a human pilot’s life,” says Curtiss. “On the commercial side, I believe that in the near future drones will find a place moving freight both large and small. The drone’s appeal is a lack of limits on crew duty time, expense, and weight savings. I also believe that the attributes that make drones appealing in the freight arena will prevent them from use with passenger carriage. Although drones perform at a higher level of precision than a human pilot, very few people would be willing to trust their life to a machine.”
Engineguy, an expert in aircraft engines, says that drones are indeed a big thing; they can do the dirty, dull, and dangerous work that is either too monotonous or too dangerous for human pilots. “The performance of the drone is not limited by the need to keep the pilot alive and conscious. Drones can maneuver at higher G-loads than a pilot can tolerate and, if one gets shot down, the pilot is neither a casualty nor a prisoner of war,” he says.
As for challenges, Engineguy says that work is needed on providing the vehicle and its operators with a suitable awareness of its surroundings. “There are civilian aircraft that must be sensed and avoided, and invariably, hostile aircraft and weapons that must be similarly evaded,” he says. “Finally, there must be a reliable means of maintaining command and control of the vehicle. For the time being, ethical concerns require that there be a human in the loop.”
VWHenry, an expert in general aviation, points out several advantages of using drones:
- Lower cost of acquisition and operation;
- Ability to perform multiple mission profiles, depending on sophistication of UAV, and without endangering human pilots in chemical, biological, radiation, or hostile environments;
- Suitable for photo or videography missions for agriculture (crop scouting, livestock observation), wildlife management, soil and water conservation, mapping and engineering functions; and
- Deployed on site without a lot of ferry time from distant airport used for traditional rotary or fixed wing aircraft.
The disadvantages VWHenry identifies are:
- The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) has not issued regulations on the operation of UAVs in US airspace;
- Concerns about privacy violations in domestic settings; and
- Conflict in congested airspace with traditional aircraft. UAV operators may be unaware of FAA regulations and could create problems in controlled airspace.
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