Flying high: what is the future of drone technology?

We love them for their awesome tracking shots and unique holiday vids, but what else can drones do? And what will they become?

28 Jun 2019

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Whether they’re filming, delivering packages or racing like flying RC cars, drones have become a common feature in our skies – and all in just a few short years.

But ask any drone owner and they’ll tell you the technology is far from perfect right now.

Drones have an unfortunate reputation for crashing, being attacked by wildlife and even falling out the sky when they suddenly run out of battery!

But worry not: drone technology is on the cusp of some big steps forward. Here are just a few things you can expect from drones in the near future…

 

Hydrogen-powered batteries

The lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries used in drones can only pack in so much power, meaning long flights require lots of spare batteries.

Hydrogen-powered batteries

Worse still, drones have been known to drop out of the sky when the cells run out of juice.

The solution could be to replace them with hydrogen-powered batteries. Hydrogen is a clean source of energy and each cell generates much more power than LiPo cells of the same size.

One Korean drone company testing hydrogen cells has managed to get a small drone to fly for 10 hours! Let’s hope we see these powerhouse batteries on the market soon.

 

Webslinging?

Made famous by a certain Marvel-ous Superhero, it may be just a matter of time before we start to see drones swinging between skyscrapers while they chase bad guys through New York City.

Webslinging drones

Well, not quite. But a similar technology is currently being tested. It’s called ‘perching’ – meaning the drone either rests on a high ledge or attaches itself to a ceiling or overhang by shooting a sticky piece of string.

By perching on buildings, lampposts, trees and cliffs, drones could take a rest in the middle of a flight, keeping them in the sky for longer.

The question is, how else could you put this technology to use?

 

Artificial Intelligence

It should come as no surprise that AI is being researched by many in the drone world.

Drones Artificial intelligence

In years to come, AI will help drones to map their own flight paths, avoid collisions with other airborne objects and even complete tasks autonomously.

Of course, this’ll have big implications for industry. Imagine teams of AI-powered drones that can build their own buildings, deliver packages across cities and even respond to emergencies – all without humans controlling them.

In the meantime, AI will be good news for hobby drone pilots and photo/videographers, as it will help make drones safer, more fun, and more intuitive to use.

 

Photogrammetry

You know how Google Maps has that incredible new 3D feature? That’s kinda what photogrammetry does.

Drones photogrammetry

Using a vast number of photographs and loads of data on the objects it’s rendering, computer programmes can build life-like models using AI.

Photogrammetry is already a feature of some experimental drones, but in the future, we can expect it to be in the hands of consumers – ordinary folks like us – too.

How cool would it be to create a scale model of your house using data gathered by your drone?

 

Drone traffic control

All of these new technologies will naturally mean that you can expect to see many more drones in the air over the next 5-10 years. This creates a problem – who’ll make sure the skies don’t get too crowded?

Drone traffic control

The good news is that the race is on for companies vying to become the first to create the first UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) system.

This will most likely be an AI-powered solution that’ll guarantee no collisions between drones – and, more importantly, between drones and other things in the sky.

Once a UTM system is implemented, drone pilots can expect more safety, more freedom – and more fun – from their drones!

 

Want to learn how to become an expert drone pilot in time for all these big developments? There’s no better time to get started – check out our great range of drones

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