Applications for Unmanned Aircraft

Unmanned Aircraft Beyond Military Applications

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT

APPLICATIONS FOR HUMANITARIAN CAUSES

Unnmaned Aerial Vehicles have had a long history and have become renowned for their use on the battlefield, and more recently in law enforcement. However, UAV technology is finding a new use in the hands of enterprising research scientists and conservationists looking for a better way to assess and protect plants and animals in regions otherwise inaccessible by road and often exhausting on foot.

From tracking illegal poaching to monitoring plant growth, the use of 'eye in the sky' UAVs has become a cost-effective way for gathering vital data and conducting scientific research over large areas of inaccessible terrain.

Through our involvement with the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems (AUVSI) we actively work with likeminded individuals and key industry and government figures to discuss ideas, solutions and innovations that enable alternative and conscientious uses of UAV technologies.

INTRODUCING UAV TECHNOLOGY TO AID ONGOING CONSERVATION EFFORTS WILL BE INSTRUMENTAL IN MONITORING FLAGSHIP SPECIES AND CURBING ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE

REPRESENTATIVE OF WWF NEPAL, JUNE 2012
Wildlife Conservation

PROTECTING WILDLIFE

CUTTING-EDGE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

UAVs are increasingly considered to be a cutting-edge tool in the world of wildlife conservation. The unmanned craft can chart land use changes like deforestation, which is threatening an untold number of species. A recent Orangutan Conservancy effort used UAV aerial surveys to help identify the animals' distribution and density in Indonesia and Malaysia, which are key as ground-based efforts are slow and costly in the thick forests that Orangutans favour. UAVs also lend punch in the fight against poaching. The conservation giant WWF plans to launch surveillance UAVs in skies over Africa, where poaching is driving iconic species like rhinos toward extinction and is fuelling a massive illegal trade in wildlife items such as horns and ivory. The UAVs will help keep animals safe and help rangers to stabilise areas where criminal gangs of poachers have become a national security concern.

Agriculture

AGRICULTURE

FROM BATTLEFIELD TO FARMER'S FIELD

UAV technology is finding a home down in farmers' fields, with agriculture estimated to be the dominant market for civil UAV operations. The precision agriculture movement uses UAV technology to monitor fields, increasing yields and saving money. Precise applications of pesticides, water, or fertilisers, where UAVs help by identifying exactly where such resources are needed and delivering them there, is better for the environment and for a farmer's bottom line. UAV cameras that spot where nitrogen levels are low, meanwhile, or watch the growth of a specific field section, can also help farmers. UAVs with infrared light cameras can reveal plant health by reflecting how efficient photosynthesis is in various plants resulting in a great comparative growth analysis, even down to an individual plant.

Search and Rescue

SEARCH & RESCUE

CRITICAL SITUATIONAL AWARENESS

Search and rescue missions are time consuming, expensive, and often dangerous for the people involved. The deployment of well-equipped UAVs with remote-sensing devices that can be programmed to fly predefined patterns, possibly at low altitudes - 30 to 150 metres - and produce various types of images (thermal, optical, and so forth) could soon become a standard way to cover large areas of inaccessible terrain, even at night. Whether it is in response to a natural disaster or a tragic accident UAVs can be quickly deployed to provide first responders with critical situational awareness and overall picture of action on the ground in areas too dangerous or difficult for manned aircraft to reach, before directing aid to where it's needed most.

3D Mapping

3D MAPPING

LANDSCAPE & TERRAIN OBSERVATION

Small, lightweight drones can survey landscapes with thousands of digital images that can be stitched together into 3D maps. Military and other government satellites produce similar maps, but emerging UAV technology can put that capability in the hands of small companies and individuals, to be customised and used for a seemingly endless variety of applications. Such technology has already been widely applied - for Haitian relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy, by farmers seeking to manage far-flung crops and fields, by mining companies monitoring changes to open pit mines, and by festivals to monitor crowd size for security reasons, among other uses.

Weather Monitoring

WEATHER MONITORING

SURVEILLANCE THROUGH A STORM'S EVOLUTION

UAVs can charge into the heart of a storm without risking human life and limb. Using long-range unmanned aircraft, that can remain airborne for extended periods and cover vast areas, enable scientists to reach and track tropical storms where manned planes can not while performing valuable surveillance through a storm's long evolution, in hopes of improving prediction powers. The reports on temperature, pressure, humidity, and location help scientists understand the forces of wind and water inside storms and hurricanes by going with the flow the way humans never could.

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