When you look at the sky, you’ll see a range of things. A flock of birds migrate south during the winter; kites gracefully fly up high, helicopters are circling the area and aeroplanes are carrying passengers to their destination. Recently, a few drones have joined the fleet of flying things. The 2019 movie ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’ has popularized drones. These mini gadgets are a must-have for all technophiles who are homebound to their smartphones and tablets. Drones are full of potential and are the next best thing.
Drones are widely used by the military and serve a commercial purpose as well. With an appetite for filming and photography, a quadcopter can prove handy to shoot pictures and videos. Drones can connect people to real-time streaming of events. A drone is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The technology of the drone is used in a quadcopter. While the term drone is used loosely, the quadcopter is a specific gadget that operates on the technology used by the drone. Farmers use drones to monitor crops and cattle real-time. The sensors and digital imaging ability of the drones give the farmers a clear understanding of the harvest. As per the Insecticides Act 1968, farmers need approval for aerial application of insecticides from the Central Insecticides Board (CIB).
A popular drone racing sport has gained popularity in Abu Dhabi with USD 1 million offered as a prize. To broadcast this event a contract was signed with ESPN. Big companies such as Google and Amazon have considerable investments in drone-assisted delivery programs. Once approved, this will change the face of logistics. What seems like a dream is now a reality. Technological advancements are taking us by surprise. Humans driven vehicles are being replaced by human-controlled vehicles on land and now in the sky.
Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California developed this Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) or Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) patented by NASA, is an award-winning invention that bagged the ‘2020 Government Invention of the Year.’ With a broad scope of UAVs and their increasing demand, many unidentified UAVs are on the rise. The UAS and UTM technology will enable Civilian Low Altitude Goods and Service Delivery by UAVs. The traditional methods are replaced by a modern machine-controlled mechanism to keep the airspace safe and accessible. UTM is truly the future of Digital Air Traffic Management.
The UAS provides practical information for UAVs, such as:
- Real-time information about manned aircraft
- Suggestions regarding the best routes and re-routes for UAVs
- Information on air conflicts and airspace restrictions
- Real-time weather information as well as forecasting
- Tracking and live location information
The invention of UTM systems has triggered the need for efficient support for its smooth functioning. This innovative technology is an engineering marvel. The dependence on a single provider is reduced, and a distributed management of UAVs is undertaken. With the UTM, the aircraft controller can make informed decisions with access to the right information. UTM is critical for Transportation Managers and Engineers. While collecting visuals of areas can be challenging, installing stationary cameras has been a successful practice for years. UAS or UTM is an eye in the sky solution to record data.
While this advanced technology is gradually claiming the sky, it illuminates a plethora of opportunities to explore space. Space science helps us look outside our planet for answers, and with NASA’s patent, the UTM technology will have a ripple effect.