The drone industry has seen massive growth in recent years with more applications being discovered by different industries all the time. The devices are still relatively new in their modern form. Below are some of the most frequesntly asked questions which we hope will help give you a better understanding on the topic.
Q: What is a drone?
A: Drones are commonly known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). They can either be remotely controlled, or they can fly on their own through inbuilt software-controlled flight plan that works in conjunction with GPS. In a more simple term, a drone can be described as a flying robot.
Q: What is a drone used for?
A: Drones were primarily used by the military to carry out some of their operations. But recently, drones have become increasingly important for the success of many commercial applications. This has seen drones used in photography, journalism, distribution and surveillance among others. This increased importance of drones for commercial purposes can be associated with the fact that drones can more often get to locations that are more difficult or impossible for humans to access. The importance of drones was emphasised by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). The association estimated that the U.S. was losing $10 billion each year as a result of delaying drone integration until 2015.
Q: What should I consider before buying a drone for the first time?
A: When buying a drone for the first time, there are many things you should take into account. Most first-time buyers of drones mostly choose drones with attractive designs. This could be a big mistake because some drones can have the best of design, yet their performance in the air is poor. While on the other hand, a drone’s design cannot be attractive to you but performs excellently when it comes to flying. There are certain things other that we will recommend you to verify before buying a drone for the first time, they include;
If you intend to use your drone to record, you should ask if the drone you are interested in can record. Some drones lack detachable cameras while others have it.
You should also consider the flight time you need. Different drones have different flight time.
You should consider if you want to fly in the ‘First Person Viewing’ (FPV) mode. You should know what type of monitor a drone has if you intend to buy one with FPV capabilities.
You should consider if you can fly the drone you are interested in. Some drones are easier to fly than others.
You should also take into consideration if the drone can automatically return to its take-off point if it gets out of your sight.
Q: What are the requirements for flying a drone in the UK?
A: Presently, you are free to buy and fly a drone in the UK as long as it’s not up to 20kg, and you are not using it for commercial purposes. But you are required not to fly it within 150 meters of areas that are congested and 50 meters around a person, vehicle, structure and vessel when it’s not under the control of a remote pilot.
Those using drones for commercial purposes are required to get authorization from the CAA. To get this approval, you must prove that you are ‘sufficiently competent’ to fly the drone. Also, if your drone weighs more than 20kg, you can only fly it in certified ‘danger areas’. An example of such area is Parc Aberporth Aerodrome in West Wales.
Q: What is the legal range of operating a drone in the UK?
A: The operating range for drones varies from one country to the other. In the UK, drones are expected to fly within sight of the person operating the drone. As a result, your drone is not expected to go above 400 feet high and further than 500 meters horizontally. If you want to exceed these ranges, you will need an authorization from CAA. It is always advisable for the pilot of a drone to always know the laws concerning the range within which he/she is permitted to fly a drone in any area or country they find themselves.
Q: How can I reduce the risk of crashing my drone?
A: Some of the things that can cause your drone to crash especially for beginners are; low battery, strong winds and transmitter mishaps among others. Knowing your environment can help you avoid a crash; this will help you avoid areas with large structures. Flying in decongested areas reduces chances of crashing the drone.
When flying through an FPV, it is advisable that you have someone to help you as a spotter. This is because when flying through an FPV, you have a limited view of the surrounding, the spotter will warn you against obstacles such as branches and buildings before you crash into them.
Flying in good weather condition with no wind or rain can greatly help you prevent a crash. The Wind can affect the drone and cause a crash.
Keeping an eye on your battery would prevent your drone from running out of battery while in the air which will cause it to fall or crash into an obstacle.
Taking off from a steady platform helps keep your drone steady in the air. If you take off from an unstable platform, it will affect your drone’s stability in the air and can lead to a crash.
Q: How high and far can a drone fly?
A: What determines the height and distance your drone can go is your radio’s range and the battery. Depending on the type of drone and the flying conditions, your radio will most often give you as high as a 1.5Km range in ideal conditions. For drones with an inbuilt control system, the radio range does not limit you.
Q: What happens when you lose control with the radio?
A: When you lose signal between the drone and the radio, you will lose control of your drone. But if you had a GPS lock on the drone before it took off, it will go into Return to Land mode and return to where it took off. In case you lose control of the drone as a result of an error on your part in controlling it, or due to poor visibility, you can activate the drone to Return to Land mode through a switch button on most of the more adavanced devices. This would allow the quadcopter to come back to its take-off point if the activation was early enough to prevent it from crashing.
Q: For how long can the drone fly?
A: The duration of time that the drone can fly will depend on the battery. The battery life depends on the particular model and its equipment. Travelling at speed will increase your power consumption, and this will decrease the flight time, but at high speed, you can cover longer distance within a short time. Speed affects the flying time with little or no effect on the distance the battery can cover. Height above sea level also affects battery life. It is, therefore, difficult to give an exact estimate of the battery life. You are always advised to keep an eye on your battery levels.
Q: Is it difficult to fly a drone?
A: Due to the inclusion of GPS capabilities and fully stabilised flight controllers, well made quads are relatively easy to fly. It is easy for most people to fly a drone even on the first day they encounter one. The difficulty in flying is seen when it comes to areas like using the drone to get a perfect picture or surveillance of an area. The difficulty is also experienced especially for beginners when it comes to flying across or around obstacles. You can do all these perfectly if you practice with someone who has experience in the area you are interested in activities such as drone photography. Spending more time flying will also help you know how to navigate obstacles and become a more accomplished pilot.
Q: Can a drone complete an entire mission on its own?
A: Many of the higher end devices can carry out a complete mission on their own. This involves taking off, flying, completing tasks such as photos and landing safely. While the uav is in the air performing such functions, it can be observed on the ground with the use of control software; this allows you to be able to track the progress as it carries out its mission. You are also able to see direct video as it carries out its mission in the air.
Q: What is drone racing?
A: Drone racing is a form of sport where participating pilots fly drones along a chosen route as fast as they can with each of the participants hoping to cross the finish line first. What makes this race awesome is the fact that the pilots use FPV system which shows what the camera of the drone is seeing.
Q: What is aerial photography?
A: Aerial photography can be seen as the taking of pictures and video from the air without the support of a ground-based structure. Aerial photographs are therefore taken with the use of drones or UAVs, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft among others. Most people nowadays use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or quadcopter to do aerial photography.
Q: How much weight can a drone carry?
A: The maximum weight a drone can carry will depend on factors such as the way the drone is designed, its propellers, battery, electronic speed controllers and other factors. It is advisable always to check the weight specification for each model.