The Awesome and Promising Future of Drones

Awesome Future of Drones

In April 2016 there was a news that Australian Post had tests on delivery of parcels with drones. That shows that Drone will capture the market in coming years as Drone deliveries are the future. You just order something online and have it dropped at your door within hours by a tiny flying object called drone.

The young entrepreneurs and businessmen are more drone oriented and trying to capture the drone technology making it available to one and all be it a farmer who wants to count his livestock or monitor his farm, a consumer who wants timely delivery of his products, to capture images or data for clients and even help in a state of war shooting down the enemy or providing first aid in an emergency.

Lately an Australian company called Flirtey claims to be at the front of the flying drone pack. Flirtey has already made a commercial drone delivery, albeit under strictly controlled conditions. The company is working with the US national space agency NASA to help develop an air traffic control system for drones also known as UAVs, or unmanned aerial vehicles  to keep them away from other aircraft.

Flirtey is run by 27-year-old Mr Sweeny and his partner Tom Bass, who have made it their mission to make door-to-door drone delivery a reality. The NASA system Flirtey and others are trialing uses computer software and mobile technology to quarantine air routes for drones well below commercial aircraft at heights of between 60 and 120 metres.

Aonghus Stevens, is another young entrepreneur who started off his business with drones at the young age of 15. Working from his bedroom and using his student email address, he began to sell drones. The operation grew into a million-dollar business.

Mr Stevens wanted to expand and offer drones as a service, using the unmanned aerial vehicles to capture images and data for clients. He was doing his HSC at The King’s School in 2011 when he tried to raise capital for the venture. After 40 or 50 unsuccessful pitches Robert Wolf, a friend of President of the United States Barack Obama and a former Wall Street heavyweight, had invested in Measure, a US-based drone-as-a-service firm. Mr Stevens’ business adviser father, Mark, met Mr Wolf through contacts in New York and a joint venture was signed to form Measure Australia.

The company operates a fleet of 30 drones nationally, gathering information for sectors including agriculture, mining and telecommunications. The drones help farmers with their infrastructure, film prestige real estate and assess damaged buildings for insurers.

According to market research, the global drones market will be worth $US5.59 billion ($7.57 billion) by 2020. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimates that, by 2025, the industry will be worth $US82 billion and employing 100,000 people worldwide.

The sky is not quite the limit for the industry – the Civil Aviation Safety Authority governs the use of commercial drones, which must remain in the pilot’s line of sight – but the technology exists to fly a drone in Perth operated from an office in Sydney.

According to Mr Stevens if the regulatory framework allowed it, there would be real benefits in using drones beyond the pilot’s line of sight  especially in Australia, with its vast agricultural holdings and remote areas not accessible by road.

Drones

Technology companies globally are racing each other to develop foolproof sense-and-avoid software, virtual fencing, longer life batteries, hybrid vehicles, battery charging stations and emergency landing systems to convince safety regulators that commercial drones should be allowed to operate in urban environments.

The main thing a drone requires to operate and function smoothly is accident free zone. As birds when hit with plane bring to might planes so do drones if met with an aircraft and cause a major accident.

All things said and done there are rules about operating a Drone in Australia

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority, or CASA, looks after flying machines all around the nation. As a result, it’s also responsible for setting the rules about the safe use of drones in Australia.

CASA breaks down drone operations into two categories: commercial and civil/hobbyist use, with different rules for each. You can visit casa.gov.au/RPA for more details.

With some relaxed rules drones under 2kg will no longer need approval from CASA before commencing flight operations in relation to commercial work. Commercial pilots still need to obtain their operator’s certificates however.

CASA will work on an expanded set of regulations for hobby and consumer-grade drones once the commercial weight approval rule has been implemented.

These new rules will address things like flying drones beyond the operator’s line-of-sight, operating a drone in an airspace where other aircraft are flying and autonomous drones that require little to no input from operators to fly.

In general, don’t think you can ignore the rules and get away with it as rules being broken result in a hefty $850 fine.

Civil or Personal Drone Use

As things stand today, private operators don’t need approval from CASA before taking flight with their drones, but there are some rules that need to be respected.

  • Stay at least 30 metres away from people with your drone.
  • Keep your drone under 120 metres (400 feet).
  • No night flying or flying through fog/cloud. You should be able to see the aircraft with your own eyes (rather than through point-of-view camera/screen/glasses) at all times.
  • You may not operate your drone above a large gathering of people (e.g.: fireworks, at sporting events, over crowds at the beach or groups of protesters).
  • You must keep your drone within sight while you’re operating it.
  • You may not operate your drone within 5.5km of an airport and a place where planes take off or land from.

CASA also reminds us that:

  • The privacy of other people should be respected by not flying near homes and backyards.
  • Never fly a drone in an active bushfire area as there is a real risk of a mid-air collision with a fire fighting aircraft, which could cause an accident. Fire fighting aircraft will be grounded if a drone is conducting unauthorized flights on a fire ground, hampering work to control the fire and putting people and property at risk.
  • Drones should also be kept away from police operations, accident scenes, building fires and rescue operations.

If you violate these rules, CASA can take action against you in the form of infringement notices and fines up to $8500 per offence. If you put people at risk or seriously injure someone, the penalties are far more serious and will be dealt with on a case by case basis.

For example, a private drone operator was allegedly using a quadcopter above a marathon race. The drone reportedly failed and struck a woman in the head causing serious injury. The CASA took the case before the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to see whether or not criminal charges could be laid against the operator.

Drones Infographic

Commercial Drone Use

The CASA defines the commercial use of a drone as anything you’re doing for hire or reward. For example, if you’re a production company strapping a camera to a drone for the purposes of gathering footage, or if you’re flying something into the air to test it via a drone, that’s commercial use.

Before you can even get a drone remote in your hands for commercial purposes, CASA requires that pilots undergo a certification process in order to get an Operator’s Certificate. That demonstrates that you can not only fly a drone safely, but also that you’re aware of rules and regulations relating to drone flights in Australia.

The regulations don’t stop there, either: for any drone flights, commercial operators need explicit approval from CASA before you can even leave the ground with your flying machine. That approval involves filing several important documents with the regulator, including a flight plan and copies of your certifications.

If a commercial entity is caught operating a drone without any of these things, you can expect this as a great offence and harsh penalty. They can revoke a a commercial entity’s Operator’s Certificate, if you are newbie. Drone operators can re-apply for their Operator’s Certificate, but that request goes through the CASA which has the power to refuse or place conditions on any new permit.

The CASA can also consider the use of infringement notices or criminal charges for commercial operators if offences are serious enough.

As said above lightweight drones under 2 kilograms, will be allowed to be operated by commercial drone pilots or companies undertaking commercial work, without having to apply and be granted a commercial drone operation licence.

For companies and operators to be exempt from those licencing requirements, though, the drones they operate will have to follow the same rules as recreational users:

  • Stay at least 30 metres away from people with your drone.
  • Keep your drone under 120 metres. Commercial drone operators can go higher with special approvals.
  • You may not operate your drone above a large gathering of people (e.g.: fireworks, at sporting events, over crowds at the beach or groups of protesters).
  • You must keep your drone within sight while you’re operating it.
  • You may not operate your drone within 5.5km of an airport and a place where planes take off or land from.

Drones that you can fly

Quadcopters

They come in all shapes and forms and can help in getting aerial photography, to FPV racing or you can just flying around inside your house. The most important thing is to make sure you understand all the rules before you get started. For recreational use, you still need to keep away from other people and under 400 feet (121.92m), as well as in line of sight.

Blade NANO QX

These drones are perfect for beginners, the NANO QX is a palm sized quadcopter that can be flown indoors and out. It’s tough enough to withstand plenty of crashes and has an excellent inbuilt stability system that makes it easy to fly for first timers. You can also put it into expert mode as your skills improve for a more challenging but rewarding flying experience. Best of all it’s quite cheap and can be picked up for around $150. You can also get a FPV video version + headset for $650.

DJI Phantom

From the cheaper Phantom 2 series to the new Phantom 3, DJI make some excellent drones for beginners and experienced pilots alike. Powerful enough to loft a GoPro, you can capture awesome footage with minimal fuss.

DJI Inspire 1

If you need to record 4K video then Inspire 1 is one of the best ready to fly camera drones you can buy. Of course expect to pay around $5000 for a full kit out.

Parrot Drones

Parrot drones are popular ones and you can buy from JB Hi-Fi and other retailers. The slightly older but still fun Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is controlled through your smartphone or tablet and has a built in camera. It’s not quite as precise or aerobatic as some of the other drones available, but it’s fun and an easy way to get started. The more recent Parrot Bebop drone brings more advanced flight and better quality video, albeit for a higher price.

Mariner Waterproof Quadcopter

These drones basically work under water. They are fully waterproof quadcopter. It can carry your action camera too and is perfect for all weather operations. The extra functionality over a standard drone does cost extra though, and the Mariner will set you back $1800.

Phone Drone

Phone Drone

Can you convert your smartphone into a phonedrone. Yes you can and as your smartphone already has a powerful processor and multiple sensors, you can think of phone drone.  The PhoneDrone was designed by Indiana-based xCraft, which is the same company that brought the hovering/fixed-wing X Plu sO ne drone. The company’s latest quadcopter can be flown in a few different fashions.

First of all, using a free app on the phone, users can enter a flight path which the PhoneDrone will then autonomously follow. Alternately, if they have access to another smartphone or tablet (iOS or Android), they can keep that one with them and use it to manually pilot the drone via Wi-Fi – they’ll also be able to watch live streaming video from the drone’s phone camera while doing so.

Finally, again using a second mobile device that’s on their person, users can fly the drone in Follow Me mode. In this case, the phone in the aircraft will lock onto the signal of the second device, and then automatically pilot the drone to keep it above that device as it moves.

Phone Drone

The drone itself can accommodate iPhones 4s and up, along with most popular Android phones. It features propeller arms that can be folded back for transport, along with a folding mirror that allows the phone’s camera to shoot ahead, straight down, or anywhere in between. Flight time is 20 to 25 minutes, and an ultrasonic collision-avoidance system is in the works. You can visit the PhoneDrone website for more details and enjoy droning.