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Novel Uses of Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles

How drones are shaping the world, today and tomorrow

worker dressed in orange with arm outstretched toward drone
Set sail with a drone to inspect your offshore rigs. (Image copyright and courtesy Safety4Sea)

Urban air mobility (UAM) is coming. Advanced air mobility (AAM) is coming. Uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) are here now.

The following UAV manufacturers and component providers are preparing to use UAVs in novel ways to shape the skies today and create a sustainable, cost-effective, uncrewed tomorrow.

Precision Crop Spraying

Regina, Saskatechwan, Canada-based  Precision AI has developed an artificial intelligence-based crop spraying UAV to more precisely and more cost-effectively spray crops. The UAVs can identify which areas of a farm need pesticides and, as the name suggests, delivers the chemicals only where needed. Equally impressive, the system identifies the offending weed’s type and lays down the appropriate pesticide to mitigate the particular weed threatening the crop.

Drone Dropping Last-Mile Delivery

image of a truck with drones hovering above it in a cityscape.

Plane, trains, and drones (Image copyright and courtesy of OpenPR.com)

UAVs are being tested and prepped for last-mile delivery. Drones are being considered for everything from your daily bread and weekly groceries to critical medications or life-saving supplies in remote disaster areas.

Skyports Drone Services and EMED Group have teamed up to drone-drop these goods right to your front (or back!) door.

Inspect This!

Whether it’s an offshore oil-drilling rig, a sky-high office tower or a bird’s eye of the real estate you’re eyeing for investment, UAVs are being deployed to give industrial operators, developers, and property owners a bird’s eye view of a particular situation or the surrounding landscape.

Pick Your Drone Type

drone component

Embention’s Autopilot 1x component (Image copyright and courtesy of Embention)

What type of drone do you need? Companies, such as Embention, offer at least six types of drones and drone components, each suited to a particular application.

Multirotor drones offer advanced maneuverability and stability along with accuracy during hovering flight. Aircraft drones allow for larger payloads and longer flight times. VTOL drones are noted for their versatility and flexibility in adapting to your needs. Solar-powered drones provide facilitate long-range flight times along with being environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Cargo Delivered, Pilot-free

Image of white plane on runway.

Dronamics Black Swan Cargo UAV (Image courtesy and copyright Dronamics)

Dronamics recently qualified for IATA and ICAO codes, the same as any other airline would have, becoming the world’s first authorized cargo air carrier.

Dronamics will now carry the IATA-issued designated “OY” along with the airline accounting prefix “651.” Combined, the airline designator code and accounting prefix authorize Dronamics to operate scheduled and nonscheduled flights and to issue airway bills (AWBs).

Pilots and air traffic controllers can now use the designations for flight planning and communications with air traffic control, enabling Dronamics to release NOTAMs (‘Notice to Airmen’ AKA ‘Notice to Air Missions’) to forewarn aviators of potential hazardous or disruptive conditions at an aeronautical facility or with a service, procedure or hazard for which contemporaneous knowledge would be helpful.

Dronamics’ aircraft claim to be able to transport up to 350 kgs (approximately 770 lbs.) of cargo across a distance of 2,500 km (approximately 1550 miles).

A Seamless Switch Hitter

Back end of a Honeywell system

The Honeywell Aerospace Versawave Satcom system is specifically designed to accommodate the next generation of UAS and AAM aircraft and their operators. (Image copyright and courtesy Honeywell Aerospace).

Honeywell Aerospace’s Versawave with 5G is a new small satcom system that will enable beyond-visual-line-of-sight communication for UAVs.

Its combination hardware and software system combines multiple connectivity options that provide automatic and seamless transition from cellular and satcom communications.

Qualification and certification are expected during Q3 2023.

Swooping Offshore

Man standing behind a Swoop drone.

The Swoop Aero Kite drone and Swoop Aero CEO Eric Peck.

Skyports Drone Services have joined forces with Equinor, a Norwegian energy firm, to test the viability of drone deliveries to oil rigs in the North Sea. The pair aim to conquer the logistical challenges often posed in the offshore environment. The two-month long program began in September 2023. The companies are using a drone from Melbourne, Australia-based Swoop Aero, which has an operating distance of 114 km (about 70 miles) to conduct their pilot program.

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Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke is a California-based writer who is fascinated by the way technology changes our lives.