Drones And The Environment
Drones and security seem to be two topics that are often discussed in conjunction with one another. Drones and technology is another popular topic pair. But drones and the environment, and their relationship to one another, is rarely discussed. However, it should be discussed, and discussed in-depth.
There is incredible potential that lies in connecting drones with environmental concerns. Drones have the ability to reach fragile and remote locations with minimal impact. This includes visual impact (i.e. drones are hard to spot), audio impact (i.e. the minimal sound from a drone will not disrupt nature, and environmental impact (i.e. the electricity and solar power that drones use is much less wasteful than the fossil fuel burned by planes). In addition, drones have the ability to collect superior data that can both address environmental concerns and help to avoid wasteful activities. In other words, drones are the environmentally friendly solution to finding more environmentally friendly solutions.
Drones For Surveying
Drones have opened the doors to surveyors from every industry. These tiny flying machines have now made it possible for scientists, developers, environmental conservationists and many more to get eyes on very hard-to-reach places. Drones have the potential to be used for the following environmental purposes, among many others:
- Animal management and conservation (i.e. migration tracking, nest surveys, etc.)
- Coastal management (i.e. erosion monitoring, volume estimation, storm damage assessment, etc.)
- Plant conservation (i.e. plant/tree counting, species identification, biomass estimation, etc.)
- River and flood assessment (i.e. river mapping and modeling, river surveys, flood defense planning, etc.)
- Earthwork and rock face management (i.e. project planning, rock fall assessment, etc.)
Drones can also be effectively used in forestry, regulation enforcement, expedition planning, change monitoring and terrain modeling. The reason that drone-use is so effective for surveying, and other related environmental purposes, is 5-fold. First, a drone is inconspicuous. Fixed-wing, small electric-powered drones produce very little noise, and because of their natural bird-shape, they attract little attention. Second, drones can drastically reduce costs. With a few big projects or a little time, the return-on-investment for a drone system will be seen and felt. Third, It’s not a whole big thing. You don’t need a lot of staff and it doesn’t take long to set up. Fourth, the images produced are in real-time. For time-sensitive projects, there really is no alternative. Fifth, a drone does what you need it to do, when you need it to do it–it’s flexible. If the weather is not bad, with a drone, you can launch anytime.
Drones For Measuring
While many still associate drones with the military or hobbyists, some are predicting that the agricultural industry will be responsible for roughly 80% of commercial drone use. Some agricultural companies and individual professionals are already using drones with cameras to more quickly identify bug or pest infestations and underwatered or overwatered areas.
Besides direct agricultural uses, there are some wider-reaching environmental uses. For example, it could help scientists more closely monitor a microhabitat or population. With funding being limited, it can be difficult to send personnel out into the field to collect data. A drone can easily do this trip and potentially collect more accurate data.
Drones Vs. Traditional Means
Drones can and should replace traditional means of things like delivery, security, and monitoring. They are more efficient and effective than the fossil fuel burning alternatives. When it comes to delivery systems, using a drone-based system could cut carbon dioxide emissions of customers driving to the store by anywhere from 50% to 90%.
Drones can also come in handy for the energy industry. Drones can monitor solar farms, wind turbines and oil and gas pipelines. They can also offer the ability to reach areas that would otherwise require a helicopter, cherry picker or scaffolding, which also pose various risks, including safety, health, cost and environmental–not to mention the reduced flexibility with traditional methods.
Not only will monitoring photovoltaic panels and wind turbines with drones be minimally expensive, but it also has the potential to significantly increase profits and performance. And as far as more hazardous situations go, drones have the ability to prevent accidents like gas leaks and oil spills, as well as making the clean-up much more efficient and effective.
The environmental and agricultural industries have a lot to look forward to as the use of drones in their sectors increase. More preventative actions can be taken to keep the environment safe and to keep crops and animals healthy. And more reactive actions can be taken in a more timely fashion to ensure increased profits and safety. Drones will enable professionals in these fields to identify potential concerns and address them in real-time.
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