Few hobbies are as instantly exciting or more addictive than droning. Still, whether you are thinking about buying a new drone or have owned one for years, you are probably looking for ways to make drone flying even more thrilling and satisfying. Participating in fun, competitive drone racing is a sure-fire way to take your droning experience to the next level. For good reason, the sport has grown tremendously in recent years. Here is everything you need to know about racing your drone.
What Is a Drone?
In generic terms, drones are flying vehicles that a pilot controls using four fixed-pitch fan blades. These blades spin at varying speeds to direct the drone in any direction. For competition purposes, the definition of “drone” may vary. Individual race rules often limit a drone’s size, power or other features. Prior to registering for a competition, you must review race rules and other restrictions to be certain your drone meets all qualifications. You should also be prepared for race officials to inspect your drone on race day.
What Is a Race?
Many drone operators enjoy flying their vehicles in a competition-free environment. Those looking for more of a challenge, however, often enter their drones in a race. Drone racing, sometimes called rotorcross, offers that challenge in an organized, highly competitive setting.
During the race, pilots fly drones through a pre-set course. Courses usually vary in both length and complexity, giving both new and professional pilots an opportunity to showcase their talents. Generally, both speed and navigation are scored, meaning the pilot must be accurate and fast to beat other competitors. As with any race, failing to follow race rules may result in the assessment of penalties or disqualification from the race.
Drone racing is still in its infancy, with many pilots viewing races to be the drone sport of the future. Also, drone pilots are continually thinking of ways to demonstrate their flying prowess. Thus, new events are sure to crop up in the future. If you haven’t found the perfect drone competition for you, you may be on the forefront of designing an exciting event for other drone operators.
Where Are Races Located?
Drone pilots form associations around the world. These associations frequently hold drone racing competitions. Meanwhile, amateur groups often organize races. To find a race near you, check for drone associations in your area. Becoming a member of one of these groups or joining a group mailing list are both effective ways to learn about upcoming races. Similarly, many drone racing leagues have formed in countries around the globe. These leagues frequently hold races for pilots of all skill levels. If you are serious about participating in many races or supporting the drone racing community, joining a drone racing league is an effective option.
Since drone racing is only beginning to catch on in popularity, you may have to travel hundreds of miles to compete against other pilots. While this can be exciting, it can also be costly. Because drone racers are usually passionate about the sport, they are often happy to help racers establish events in their communities. As such, if there is no race in your area, you may want to start one. Begin by deciding which type of event you want to sponsor. Then, connect with other drone racers for the resources you need to pull off a successful competition.
What Is a Video Race?
One of the most popular types of drone competitions is the first-person video race. With these races, drone pilots outfit their vehicles with a camera. Then, instead of maneuvering the drone using the naked eye, pilots rely on video playback through head-mounted display screens. As you may suspect, controlling a drone using the drone’s visual perspective is often considerably more challenging than a conventional race. Accordingly, drone pilots typically wait to register for a video competition until they have acquired significant drone piloting skills.
During video races, pilots aren’t the only ones who wear headgear. Rather, in many events, spectators also don helmets to give them a first-person view of the action. If race watchers want to see another drone or watch a different competitor, they simply change frequencies. Remember, different racing organizations offer different viewing experiences, so check with your race’s organizers to see how spectators are encouraged to watch your event.
Carbon 210 Race Drone
LiPo Battery 11.1V 1500mAh 25C 3S
Carbon 210 Racing Drone Aluminum Case
What Is the Global Racing League?
Perhaps the most popular racing organization for video-race droning is the Global Racing League. This league allows pilots to compete for a well-earned, world-championship racing title. Those who participate in the GRL may compete through four stages of racing, each testing their piloting skills in video race. Interestingly, the league does not allow racers to provide their own drones. Instead, all drones used in competition are made and serviced in-house, helping to level the playing field for race pilots. That is, if you win a GRL event, you know it was skill, not your drone, that put you over the top.
Unfortunately, the GRL is exclusive, limiting competition to pilots with exceptional skills. As such, prior to joining the GRL, pilots usually work through an online simulation to give them an idea of course challenges. Remember, many of the courses in the GRL use wind-generating turbines to increase the difficulty of three-dimensional courses.
Participating this series of races often helps pilots become better drone flyers, as the GRL gives participants access to a variety of resources. If you are looking to compete against the best of the best, joining the GRL is a great way to ensure you have top-notch competition.
Are Drone Upgrades Acceptable?
You probably know that not every style of drone is a good fit for every type of flying. Some drones are designed to hover, making them a good fit for aerial photography. Others are built to move through the air quickly, allowing them to dominate on a course where speed is a factor. Before choosing the right drone for your competition, be sure you understand the purpose of the event. Then, select the drone that gives you the best chance of dominating without violating the competition’s rules or restrictions.
As with any sport, drone competitions have rules that govern how participants must behave before, during and after races. These rules dictate which drone upgrades are acceptable and which ones violate the rules. Often, however, pilots choose to customize their vehicles to give them advantages on the course or during the race. Since many aftermarket components help pilots improve drone agility and speed, diligent flyers check with the pertinent associations to avoid violating competition rules. Likewise, pilots often choose to carry spare parts and tools with them on race day. As you may suspect, making fast repairs during a race is critical for remaining competitive.
With the GRL, pilots typically don’t supply their own drones. Instead, league officials give pilots access to drones made and maintained by the league itself. Likewise, if a league-supplied drone sustains damage on race day, GRL rules require pilots use league-approved parts in making repairs. If you plan to participate in a GRL-sanctioned event, check with league officials prior to the competition to be sure you understand how to maneuver the drone used in the race.
What Are Some Other Racing Options?
If you aren’t yet ready for high-level GRL competition, don’t panic. There are hundreds of other racing opportunities, each targeted to satisfy the racing objectives of individual pilots. That is, whether you are a first-time racer or have been racing for years, you can find the perfect competition to showcase your drone piloting abilities. Often, either taking a piloting class or joining a drone group is the best way to learn about races and other competitions. Meanwhile, a growing number of drone racing enthusiasts have begun to offer podcasts, videos, and other informational resources to pilots. Taking advantage of these resources is also a good way to find out about upcoming races and other competitions.
Is Drone Racing Lucrative?
There are hundreds of drone racing events around the globe, each with different objectives. Most who participate in drone racing do so because of a deep love of the sport. Still, competition winners may walk away with thousands of dollars in winnings. Since each competition awards winners with different prizes, be sure to ask about accolades before registering for a competition. Also, remember that racing organizations usually charge an entry fee for competitions. You may also have to pay for travel to and from the event. To get the most out of your racing experience, be sure you budget effectively for all race-related expenses.
Drone racing is probably the sport of the future. Those who participate in the sport understand how incredibly thrilling drone competitions can be. Still, with the variety of events offered by different organizations around the planet, drone pilots can get their racing fix in a seemingly endless number of ways. By discovering which events are right for you, choosing the best equipment, joining drone racing groups and honing your skills, you can likely turn your drone hobby into a passion.
Drones may be a relatively new phenomenon, but they actually have their roots in the late 19th century, back when Nikola Tesla first patented an “unmanned vehicle control,” which he predicted would be so deadly that “by reason of its certain and unlimited destructiveness…will bring about and maintain permanent peace among nations.” His patent, which was, more specifically, for “Method of and apparatus for controlling mechanism of moving vessels or vehicles,” was granted in November of 1898. It read as follows:
“In a broad sense, then, my invention differs from all of those systems which provide for the control of the mechanism carried by a moving object and governing its motion in that I require no intermediate wires, cables, or other form of electrical or mechanical connection with the object save the natural modia in space. I accomplish, nevertheless, similar results and in a much more practicable manner by producing waves, impulses, or radiations which are received through the earth, water, or atmosphere by suitable apparatus‘ on the moving body and cause the desired actions so long as the body remains within the active region or effective range of such on currents, waves, impulses, or radiations.” (United States Patent Office)
Tesla first introduced his vision via a small unmanned boat at an exhibition in Madison Square Garden. The unmanned vehicle appeared to change direction upon verbal command, a trick that wowed the audience. In actuality, however, he was using radio frequencies to switch the motors on and off. Still, his idea was so powerful that it warranted further exploration, and it wasn’t long before those radio waves were discovered and used to bring Tesla’s real vision to life. However, it would be decades before drones got to the point they are at today, as there was quite a bit of trial and error along the way.
Ewatt S8 Coaxial Multi-Rotor Aircraft
Ewatt D6 Long-Endurance Hexacopter Aircraft
Ewatt E2 Workhorse Fixed Wing Aircraft
Ewatt EWZ-E2 Catapult Case
Let’s Take a Step Back to Pre-Tesla Days
Before Tesla came up with the patent for his unmanned apparatus, the Austrians launched approximately 200 unmanned balloons equipped with explosives over the city of Venice. That was in 1849. Less than 20 years later, both Confederate and Union forces used similar balloons for scouting missions in the U.S. Civil War. In 1896, Samuel P. Langley wowed Washington D.C. as he flew unpiloted aircraft, powered by steam, along the Potomac River for a full 90-seconds, during which the world gained its first glimpse at the future, and the same year that Tesla released his patent, the U.S. military introduced the concept of aerial surveillance by attaching a U.S. military camera to a kite. These were used in the Spanish-American war.
Drones in World War I
Once it was discovered that unmanned vehicles could be used to drop bombs and keep an eye on the enemy, cogs really started moving to produce the type of technology necessary to create a truly unmanned flying vehicle, or the UAV as we know it today. In World War I, aerial surveillance was used to capture series of images that were used to form mosaic maps. Forces would use these images to track enemy movements. By the end of the war, a whopping 19,000 aerial images were taken and an outstanding 430,000 prints were collected after the war. These prints were just from the five-month Battle of the Somme in 1916.
During the war, the U.S. worked on developing a drone that could carry bombs to the target. While many prototypes were tested, it wasn’t until 1918, the end of the war, that a successful prototype made its debut. The Kettering “Bug” did exactly as the military envisioned, but by the time prototypes were perfected, the war was over.
Despite the Kettering Bug having the capabilities to carry a bomb to the exact target, they weren’t an ideal option for military forces. Drones were expensive, but they were feeble, oftentimes getting destroyed by other bigger, more complex machinery. For many forces, the cost of replacing broken drones was not worth it.
On the other hand, rockets were cheap, and they were destructive, but they were erratic. Their unpredictability made military units wary of using them. There was really no telling if a rocket would head towards the intended target or if it would do the exact opposite and come right back at the plane that had launched it. moreover, to ensure that a rocket did reach its intended destination, it wasn’t uncommon to launch multiple rockets at once, which ended up being a huge drain of resources anyways. It was a Massachusetts Dentist, Dr. Henry W. Walden, who eventually solved this problem by developing a prototype for a rocket that could be steered by a pilot who would be stationed in a mothership.
Walen was granted a patent, but because he never received an endorsement from the government, he failed to pay the patent fee. His idea wasn’t realized for years when the Germans developed radio-guided rockets to use in WWII.
Drones in WWII
The Fritz X was introduced by the Germans in September of 1943, when its military used it against Allied Ships in the Mediterranean. This Fritz X did demonstrate a fraction of the destructive potential that Tesla warned about when it sank Italian battleship Roma and severely damaged battleship Italia. However, it was more of a missile than the drone that previous leaders originally envisioned. The Fritz was operated by using a joystick and transmitter, and the cruciform tail is what ultimately ensured that the bomb was on the right trajectory.
Other country’s soon followed suit, and soon each military seemingly had faster, stronger and more accurate missiles to fire at each other. For a time, the missile replaced the whole concept of an assault drone, and talks of drones and research to build them quieted down.
Except for the Gemini project, in which NASA developed unmanned spacecraft to help astronauts complete their docking missions, there was little drone development going on between the 60s and 80s. The U.S. did develop a more easily controlled “cruise missile,” which were like miniature aircraft in and of themselves, but though they could maintain a lift and be guided in flight, they couldn’t sustain a hover as drones today can, and they didn’t return home; rather, they landed where they eventually fell. It wasn’t until the late 80s and early 90s that the field of technology eventually made the complex advancements necessary that make modern-day drones possible. Once the technology was there, the Air Force began working in earnest on equipping drones with missiles.
1995: The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator UAV
In 1995, the drone that would change the face of drones was envisioned. The Predator Program, as it was known as, was a mission by the U.S. government to create an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The UAV is the closest any government has come to producing a product that is without a doubt an aircraft. The MQ-1 featured a bulbous nose which housed the satellite antennae, long, thin wings like those of a glider, a small glider mounted to the tail and an inverted v-tail, which gives it its foreboding look, as if it is saying that it doesn’t need rest. A small camera pod hangs from the front, effectively giving the military the hovering surveillance equipment it had been striving toward. Best of all, however, the plane-like object was equipped with Hellfire antitank missiles which could be fired at targeted objects.
The Predator continued to be called a UAV until Bob Woodward, a writer for the Washington Post, reintroduced the term “drone” to the vernacular in his article, CIA Told to Do ‘Whatever Necessary’ to Kill Bin Laden. Whether he used the dated term to refer to the old war technology that attempted to do what the Predator can do or because he was tired of all the acronyms surrounding the technology; what is clear is that the term stuck, and once again, the term “drone” was given a whole new meaning.
2010 – Present: The Modern-Day Drone
In 2010, French-based company Parrot unveiled the Parrot AR. Drone at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The quadcopter looked nothing like the drones of the past and was designed strictly for consumer use, leaving many to wonder how it even earned the title of drone in the first place. However, most people didn’t feel compelled to wonder for long, as the quadcopter helicopter could be manned by mobile device or tablet for smooth and easily controlled flight. The battery on this initial drone allowed for 12 minutes of flight time, during which users could interact with other drones in combat simulations or take part in solo games. The Parrot AR even came equipped with a 64-degree camera that had the capacity to record up to 60 fps.
Since the Parrot AR, other companies have followed suit, and now advanced consumer drones are being used for everything from drone racing to capturing live events, and from surveying dangerous areas to delivering small parcels. In fact, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced drone delivery in 2013, and in 2016, the company began its first publicly available trial of Amazon Prime Air.
Of course, it took a lot of work in the legal department to allow drones into the air for commercial. What started as just one FAA exemption—which were for a film and TV production companies—the association has since granted 24 exemptions, one of which is for package delivery and aerial photography.
Consumer drone use also has its regulations, which can be found on the FAA’s website and which all consumers should read in depth before flying. For drone users that want to fly in a way that regulations do not allow, there are drone leagues and drone races, which are growing in popularity and which are featured on ESPN.
Matrice 100 Ready to Fly Bundle Kit With Guidance System + X3 Camera
DJI Matrice 200 Quadcopter
FPVLR 2.4ghz Antenna Upgrade Kit (Phantom 3/4 Inspire 1 Matrice)
Matrice 600 TB48S Intelligent Flight Battery
Drones Have Come a Long Way, and They’re Bound to Go Even Farther
From unmanned balloons equipped with bombs to the Fritz X, and from The Predator to the Parrot AR, drones have come a long way in the past century and a half, and drone enthusiasts everywhere cannot wait to see what advancements are to come. Of course, drone history is much more detailed than what this brief overview covered, and a more detailed history would include advancements by various agencies at all phases of drone existence. This post, however, sums up the greatest achievements in drone history, and most enthusiasts anticipate the next advancement to make headlines soon enough.
The oil and gas industry has come to rely on commercial drones for inspection and data-gathering purposes in recent years. As early as 2014, the petroleum company BP received FAA authorization to use commercial drones to monitor its facilities. Since then, the number of drones, pilots, and services that cater to these industries has grown exponentially. Durable professional drone designs that are equipped with the latest high-definition and advanced thermal cameras, as well as specialized sensors, can be useful for a wide variety of oil and gas applications.
Drones have already been used to perform pipeline inspections over large areas including terrain that previously required the use of manned helicopters. Inspections at on- and off-shore operations have historically required costly shutdowns as well as the use of risky rope access and scaffolding methods that put workers at risk. Inspections can be completed in a manner that is more cost-effective, productive, quick, and safe by manually-piloted or automated drones.
Ewatt X36 Optical Zoom Pod
Ewatt High Altitude Lighting Module
Ewatt 3 Axis X10 Optical Zoom Pod
Ewatt S8 or D6 Tool Kit
Oil and Gas Drone Components
The types of industrial drones that are used in the oil and gas industry are outwardly similar to commercial or professional drones. A professional drone such as one of the offerings in the DJI Matrice series has comparable core components and flight times to drones used for commercial or industrial applications. Many services that specialize in supplying oil and gas companies with drones or aerial imaging services and data gathering offer packages that include top-level models from respected brands that also manufacture consumer drones. There are also some specialized drone makers that specialize in their own unique industrial drone designs and software for use in specific industries.
In general, drones that are intended for use in the oil and gas industry or for similar industrial purposes are capable of achieving relatively lengthy flight times. These drones feature powerful cameras for high-resolution imaging consisting of stills and video footage and often also feature thermal cameras for obtaining more complete data below the visible surface. Common uses for drones in this industry include monitoring the conditions and flow between upstream systems, midstream infrastructure, and downstream facilities for leaks or any signs of infrastructural damage such as corrosion or rust. Thermal energy can be used to detect the distribution of natural gas in a piping system and detect pitting. These drones can also be equipped with optical airborne gas sensors or precision laser measurement hardware to allow them to obtain nearly any necessary type of inspection data.
Advantages and Challenges
There are many significant advantages to performing inspections and other essential imaging and monitoring tasks using commercial drones. These advantages are maximized when the drones that are being used are equipped with specialized hardware and sensors that enable them to provide the most useful data for designated analysts at companies in the oil and gas industry. For one, drones that are piloted either by humans or by algorithms are much more cost-effective and safe than relying on helicopters, ropes, or scaffolding for inspections.
The use of drones can all but eliminate risk for human inspectors and workers as well as the need to temporarily shut down facilities for inspection. As a result, inspections can be performed with a greater frequency under standard operating conditions. This can allow for a greater degree of preventative maintenance as opposed to responses to anomalies that have already advanced to the point that they are causing environmentally detrimental leaks and expensive and potentially dangerous downtimes.
Fleets of drones can also be used to enhance the security of equipment, property, resources, and technology on a daily basis Companies in the oil and gas sector that decide to depend on drones can obtain more data with greater frequency than they otherwise could and more than any competitors that are not yet capable of these constant and refined observations. Given the proper analysis of these data sets, this information can be used to generate more effective and profitable operational, maintenance, and security plans and protocols. Depending on whether a company would prefer to invest in the capacity to perform perpetual independent drone imaging or simply have this option from an on-call service, they can work with contractors and suppliers to achieve the right drone solutions for maximizing safety and savings.
Some of the major challenges that still exist when it comes to the use of drones in the oil and gas industry include durability and flight time. Drone design and materials are becoming increasingly resilient and innovative systems are also being created to charge and shelter these devices. One system includes so-called pit stops or charging points located along flight routes to increase the distance capacity of each drone. These systems could work with either manual or automated drones. In at least one instance, this system consists of weather-shielded domes that protect drones and can allow them to charge if they run out of power or conditions become unsuitable for a continued flight for any reason.
Other companies and aerial imaging services provide fleets of drones that can be assigned to cover small portions of vast areas, capturing footage and data simultaneously. This strategy allows for the full inspection of an area such as a large tank farm or length of pipeline in far less time than a single drone, even with charging points or extended flight times. Any drone-based inspection is likely to be more affordable and fast and less risky than traditional manned methods.
Given the rapid pace of drone development over the last several years, it may become feasible for companies or firms to depend on fewer or more specialized drones to perform inspection tasks with fewer resources and greater efficiency. There is also likely to be widespread growth and development in the generation of drone and fleet flying algorithms and software that will empower companies to take the creation of complex large-scale flight plans into their own hands or all-but-completely automate data and imagery gathering missions.
Continued developments in the field of automated flight raise the prospect of a future in which commercial drones are used all of the time for monitoring and inspection in the oil and gas industry and many other commercial and industrial markets. Some firms already specialize in helping companies in this sector determine the right drone solutions for their needs and launch fleets that are controlled by customized algorithms or easy-to-use cloud-based flying and data management software. Human pilots will be gradually phased out as a full range of inspection and information-gathering procedures become automated all the way up to and beyond the level of data analysis. More frequent data readings should allow for further refinement of information-gathering mechanisms and more thorough observations over time.
The use of commercial drones in the oil and gas industry at present is laying the foundation for a future in which companies in this sector are capable of affordably taking the proactive steps necessary to prevent leaks and other adverse or anomalous events that can lead to environmental disasters on land or at sea. Drones greatly facilitate the monitoring and maintenance processes and are capable of offering support for emergency response and containment initiatives. Taken together, all of these capacities help to make on-shore or offshore platforms, pipelines, and other facilities safer for human workers by allowing for the condition of vital infrastructure to be closely monitored in addition to changing conditions.
Matrice 100 Ready to Fly Bundle Kit With Guidance System + X3 Camera
DJI Matrice 200 Quadcopter
DJI Matrice 210 RTK-G
Matrice 600 Pro Flying Platform
Reduce Risk and Raise Profits
Regardless of whether the drones that an oil and gas company uses are manual or automated, they are still a significant step toward safer operations. It is likely that drone monitoring and inspection will become standard operating procedure in this and many other industries given the amount of money that can be saved through preventative maintenance and reduction of many risks formerly posed to human workers. Drones are likely to find their most practical uses in this type of highly-specialized large-scale imaging and data gathering work.
The benefits of reduced risks and costs are perhaps most pronounced for oil and gas operations. According to a study undertaken by the UK oil and gas firm Fircroft, drone inspections can be up to 85% faster and cheaper than standard oil platform inspection techniques. It is also the case that substantial savings are achieved by the simple fact that a platform or rig does not need to be shut down prior to drone inspection as it would need to be for human inspectors relying on precarious methods such as ropes and scaffolding. Another company involved in oil and gas applications has found that using drones for flare stack inspections can result in more than one million dollars in recovered production costs. The ability to safely continue operations during inspections can pave the way to more regular inspections and safer operations.
Drones are the most technologically-adept and efficient method for monitoring the status of oil and gas equipment and infrastructure at every part of the extraction and refining process. As drones become more common in this industry and for a wide variety of other commercial and industrial applications, it will lead the way to a safer and more productive environment for resource extraction and refinement.
When it comes to drone capability, strength and speed, professional drones are top of the line. Manufacturers design these machines to appeal to industries where they would not only be convenient but necessary. From the film industry to survey farmers, professionals know how to put these drones to work. As technology advances, drones become more and more capable.
Professional drones are generally higher quality than the toy drones enthusiasts use for recreation. Manufacturers build these hardier and with extra features that are suited for agriculture, film, utility companies and more. As drones gain in popularity, the businesses that have something to gain from them also grow in number.
There is one business, however, where you’ll see drones soaring high! Here is what you need to know about drones and the agriculture business.
Ewatt S8 Coaxial Multi-Rotor Aircraft
Ewatt D6 Long-Endurance Hexacopter Aircraft
Ewatt E2 Workhorse Fixed Wing Aircraft
Ewatt 3D Modeling and Mapping 5 Angle Camera
Drone Use in Agriculture
When it comes to agriculture, drones have found a natural place in the business. Farmers cannot be everywhere at once. However, with a drone, they are able to survey their land with real-time information. Farming involves keeping track of many different components. From crop health, water use and soil analysis, farmers have a lot to keep track of. In the past, before drones were a major asset to farming, people invested in plane surveillance. Planes can’t be used as often and at the expense of manned aircraft, farmers tend to use data surveillance by plane sparingly. Drones, on the other hand, can survey the land on a daily or weekly basis.
When used, these drones can complete a variety of jobs on farms and ranches. Here are just some of the tasks that they are capable of:
- Diagnosing problems with plants
- Imaging that can determine water efficiency
- Imaging for soil erosion predictions
- Imaging of pest infestations
- Crop dusting
One interesting fact to keep note of is that you can use a drone with a near-infrared sensor to determine stress in plants. Plants can show signs that they are in distress before you’ll see any signs of physical damage. This gives you an upper hand and ability to try to save your plants before any permanent damage occurs. Additionally, farmers may use the sensors to identify soil damage or erosion. When you have problems with your land or crops, it’s important to know about it in advance so that you can plan further ahead.
When you have the time to make a plan, then you have a chance to save your crops and maximize your productivity. Drones make it possible for you to gather extra information in a fast and convenient way. Your eyes aren’t going to be able to tell you when a plant is in distress or when there’s unseen soil damage. Drones are fast, convenient and highly effective.
Take for example how the agricultural industry uses thermal imagining to determine whether a farm is watered adequately. Keep in mind that watered areas tend to be cooler than the areas that are not. A great drone to use for this purpose is the DJI Inspire 1. Not only is it fitted with thermal imagining but it also has 3D mapping and crop monitoring capabilities.
Fixed Wing Drones
Fixed wing drones are preferred by the agricultural industry. This is because their batteries tend to last longer and they can survey larger expanses of land. This is better in terms of surveillance and data collection over a large area. Fixed wing drones fly higher and spend more time in the air than a multi-rotor drone. Since these are also larger and can carry more, they are often equipped with more sensors. This allows ranchers and farmers to get more work done. When it comes to this type of drone, they tend to look more like airplanes with a large wingspan.
Here are two common fixed-wing commercial drones for agriculture:
PrecisionHawk Lancaster 5
With high stability, the Lancaster 5 is a sturdy fixed-wing drone. On board, it has sensors that can measure temperature, air pressure, and humidity. It can also respond to the changing weather conditions. With an in-flight monitoring system, you can monitor its battery life, altitude, and position from home. It is also capable of 2D and 3D mapping.
- 45 minute flight time
- 4.9 FT wingspan
- 300 acres survey area per flight
- 12-16 m/s cruise speed
- 5.3 LBS
Sensefly eBee SQ
The Sensefly eBee SQ is practical for data collection. In one flight, you can capture the soil temperature, H20 levels and plant counts. Additionally, it is capable of 3D mapping.
- 55 minute flight time
- 110 cm wingspan
- 500-acre survey area per flight
- 28 mph cruise speed
- 2.4 LBs
Multi-Rotor drones are also a good choice for farmers, especially when you want a drone with more control. These drones have more than two rotors for flying. This can be especially helpful for beginners. Now, when you want to fly your drone low to the ground or need it to fit into smaller places, the multi-rotor is more advantageous. For many farmers, the type of drone that you choose depends on the size of your farm and your level of skill with a drone.
Here are two common multi-rotor drones:
DJI Phantom 4 PRO
This is an easy-to-use beginner agricultural drone. With the Sentera’s NSVI upgrade, it is capable of capturing high-resolution color. This is a great way for a farmer to determine the health of their land. Predominately used for scouting, it is a hardy agricultural drone.
- 30 minute flight time
- 4.3-mile transmission distance
- 45 mph cruise speed
- 2.94 LBs
SOLO AGCO Edition UAV
This drone contains high-resolution mapping software that farmers can utilize on their properties. With two cameras, the aerial mapping is not only possible but is also easy to carry out. This is a great drone for those who need to scout.
- 20 minute flight time
- 55 mph cruise speed
- 2 customized cameras
- Automatic takeoff
When you purchase a drone, they can come with many different features and add-ons for the specific tasks you need. If you need a higher resolution camera or specific imaging, it’s possible to customize your drone to fit your needs.
Many farmers and ranchers have an extensive amount of property in which large herds of animals can roam. In this case, it may be difficult for farmers or their work animals to monitor the herd at all times. Drones are lightweight, fast, and can follow herds wherever they roam. Not only do they have a live tracking system, but also professional, commercial drones for agriculture can feed live video to your laptop or smartphone.
In addition, a drone equipped with infrared or night vision will be able to see your animals even when you can’t. Cows, for instance, have a tendency to hide in forested areas, under the canopies of trees. With the right infrared technology, you’ll be able to see them through the trees when you might not have been able to find them yourself. It won’t be long before drones are a staple of animal agriculture. These devices can be used to raising and managing livestock. In fact, if you need a solid herding tool, drones can perform that too.
While they continue to develop and better the technology, there is a future for drones in agriculture, especially when it comes to working with the animals themselves.
What Makes Drones Better?
New technology can be daunting. Despite having been on the market since the 90s, drones have only started gaining real popularity in the last several years. Don’t be like some people in the industry, however, and be too nervous to take that leap! It’s worth it in the long run and we can tell you why.
First, consider the price. To use other aerial methods can cost a lot of money. From manned aircraft to satellites, you are paying too much for aerial pictures. Drones cost less money; their imaging is by far cheaper.
Second, they have offer more precision when it comes to picture taking. Why spend extra money on images that won’t turn out as well
Here are a few other benefits of drones:
- Detects pests and other problems quicker due to frequent surveying
- Can scout the entirety of a field
- Images can be used to calculate the size of hills and holes.
Commercial drones for agriculture will continue to gain in popularity. For one farmer or an entire team to keep track of plant and animal health can be exhausting and in some cases a losing battle. People can only do so much. Many farmers end up surveying the perimeter of their land, rather than being able to visualize every part of it. Even if you could, it would not be something that you could take part in every day. Drones offer more of a guarantee. They are an investment that can change the face of agriculture and save money in the end. These drones could be yours and all you have to do is make sure you have the battery life.
From simple images, 3D mapping, to infrared technology, the drone has few tasks unfit for it.
If you are a drone enthusiast, then you may be looking for ways to make the activity more exciting than simply hovering your device around the park. To meet this demand and to use drones to their fullest potential, several drone racing leagues have popped up all over the world in recent years. Rotorcross was the first professional league to form, and it was based out of New Zealand and Australia.
The sport is relatively straightforward. Competitors race their devices through a course, which may be filled with obstacles, and try to be the first to cross the finish line. Operators see what is going on throughout the course with the aid of a camera strapped to the drone itself. Therefore, people see what the drone “sees.”
There are several different leagues involved with competitive drone racing. Arguably the most famous is the Drone Racing League. However, other popular organizations include:
- X Class Drone Racing
- Europen Rotor Sports Association
- Drone Sports Association
- Canadian Federation for Drone Racing
- TOS FPV Racing Club
- World Drone Prix
- DR1 Racing
DRL is quickly becoming the most prominent racing league, and it has broadcasted competitions over Sky Sports and ESPN. In the near future, it could very well become the NASCAR of drone racing.
Technically, almost any type of drone can be raced, but the exact equipment necessary will depend on the league you are in. For example, DRL supplies drones to competitors as well as any backup part in the event of a crash. However, for other leagues, such as DR1 Racing, competitors will need to supply their own drones and are responsible for supplying any replacement parts.
The most important feature is that the item needs to have a camera on the nose. Images captured by the camera are transmitted to a monitor or goggles possessed by the pilot. This transmission is sent through radio waves. Generally, goggles required to race can be acquired for anywhere between $50 and $500. However, the more expensive pieces tend to come with extra features that can be beneficial on the course. These features include DVR, head tracking and a wider field of view.
About the Drone Racing League
As the most prominent league currently in existence, any serious competitor will want to try to get into the DRL. This organization was started by Nicholas Horbaczewski and Dan Kanes. Horbaczewski is the former Chief Revenue Officer of Tough Mudder while Kanes came up with the original concept for the sport. Justice Laub also helped bring the league to fruition by handling the marketing and business development components of the job. The league received a lot of initial funding through Lux Capital and RSE Ventures. Another early investor for Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins.
The first season of the sport launched in early 2016. Bud Light and Toy State sponsored the games, and the races took place at various locations across the United States. Some of the featured venues included the Miami Dolphins Stadium, a Detroit auto plant and an abandoned mall in Los Angeles. The races were broadcast in dozens of countries, and 75 million individuals tuned in either through TV or online.
The second season saw great expansion. The sponsors for the 2017 event were the U.S. Air Force, Amazon Prime, FORTO Coffee Shots and Allianz. Jordan “Jet” Temkin, who won the first season, also took home first place this time around. The courses themselves saw an international expansion, and this time, courses were located in the United States, London, and Munich.
One noteworthy aspect of DRL is the fact they require all pilots to race the same drones. The reason for this is to ensure the person who wins is the person who flew best. This prevents a pilot from winning simply because he or she had a more technologically-advanced piece of equipment.
Many courses throughout the various leagues test a pilot’s ability to maneuver a drone in a number of styles. Here are some of the most common types of courses and what they are meant to test.
- Speed: These courses are all about testing a pilot’s ability to fly the drone as fast as possible. You will need to be able to find the fastest lane at all costs to come in first.
- Turns: These courses have a few more twists, turns, and curves throughout the track. You will need to maneuver a drone graciously through the air and use gravity to your full advantage.
- Advanced: These are arguably the most difficult courses to master because they combine the need to fly fast while also testing your reaction time with little warning. You will need to make split-second decisions that could end in catastrophe for your drone if you are not careful.
- Small Spaces: Finally, these courses will test how well you can fly through tight spaces. There is most often a hoop located in the middle of the course you will need to fly through perfectly to advance and not damage your device.
Most courses are outfitted with special lights and cool effects for a one-of-a-kind experience. Some of the leagues even encourage fans and competitors alike to submit locations that would make for exceptional courses. In many instances, the races are held in abandoned facilities that can be made to look like anything. The designers can get extremely creative when it comes to designing a course that is both fun and challenging.
How to Get Involved
Although the sport is still relatively new, it can be difficult to get involved on a professional level. This is especially the case for anyone who wants to be part of the Drone Racing League. The best way to get started in drone racing is to take a class and join a team in your area. You will need to acquire your own drone and goggles in order to partake in the events. By being part of a team, you will learn when events are taking place near your city. Your team may even drive out to another state to get involved and have fun.
As time goes on, you will be a part of more and more competitions. It is at this point you may catch the attention of a professional who wants to test your skills in a more experienced event. This is an excellent time to get involved in drone racing if you are not doing it already. Since it is still fairly new, there are still a number of ways for the sport to grow. You can get your foot in the door and start making connections to potentially be the next big thing in the drone racing world.
The sport is already earning praise from numerous outlets. For example, the Drone Racing League was named as one of the most innovative companies in 2017. Part of what is so incredible about what DRL has done is that it managed to get broadcasting rights from a major network. It is clear that stations, such as ESPN, are invested in turning drone racing into the next big spectator sport. DRL also won an award from Cynopsis Media for being one of the most innovative companies in the last year. It is certainly a startup to watch that will only gain more notoriety as time goes on.
The Future of the Sport
Being so new, drone racing can go almost anywhere in terms of popularity. Plenty of new sports pop up every year in an attempt to be the next big thing. However, while some will become instant successes, such as the Electronic Sports League, many others will fall apart sooner rather than later, which is what happened to the National Xball League.
There are some obstacles the sport needs to get over before it can enjoy any kind of mainstream success. For starters, the league needs to make it easier for spectators to follow along with their favorite competitors. One problem with drones is that they all tend to look the same from a distance. It is perhaps for this reason some races outfit the drones with small LED lights so that they can be distinguished from a distance.
It seems as though drone racing will not go away anytime soon. Some races have already handed out extremely high cash prizes. For instance, the World Drone Prix was held in Dubai recently where the winner took home $250,000. Leagues are also attracting blue-chip sponsors, such as GoPro.
A Rich Yet Short History
Truth be told, drone racing has been around since people could first acquire commercially-accessible drones. It is not hard to imagine two friends both getting drones and then wanting to see which one was faster. If this sounds like something that interests you, then starting is as simple as buying a drone. When just starting out, you do not necessarily have to invest in an expensive piece of equipment. You can simply get the hang of operating a drone around various obstacles until you feel comfortable risking something that costs more.
Rodeo 110 Racing Drone RTF, W/ HD Camera, Radio and Battery
WALKERA F210 Racing Quad
DJI Goggles Racing Edition
Carbon 210 Racing Drone Aluminum Case