Industrial grade drones or UAVs are becoming the next big thing in the ongoing ‘Industrial Revolution’. We usually think of aerial drones as consumer technology or used by the military to fly pilot-less missions. But there is an entire industry dedicated to using drones in industrial settings like mining, construction, and insurance.
The technology of industrial grade drones is fascinating and comprises of elements such as robust multirotor bodies, GPS, LIDAR, and other sensors integrated with high definition camera. These industrial drones collect data from a network of sensors with advanced image processing techniques and artificial intelligence.
The main objective of industrial drones is to monitor region or terrains that are not in range of human workers, either due to their uncertain setting or inaccessibility due to size or environmental conditions. Factories, refineries, mines, and other similar industrial sites are complicated ecosystems requires inspection and maintenance for optimal operation.
Industrial grade drones can operate under complex circumstances such as monitoring millions of miles of power grid cables, which will be inefficient with human operators. This simplifies that UAVs are the next generation of low-cost industrial technology that will improve every industry vertical.
How drones connect to industries
A commercial or military drone has an end-to-end wireless connection from the user to the controller. An industrial grade drone, however, communicates directly to an industrial control system such as the Supervisory Control system. Some of the parameters measured by the mounted sensors on the industrial drone are temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, motion, electric & magnetic field strength, and even methane levels. These sensors communicate directly with the core communication network.
Differences between commercial and industrial drones
Industrial drones, commercial drones, and military drones operate at different speeds and heights and have different performance characteristics and flight profiles. It is important to consider the environment while designing a drone for a factory setting.
There are durability differences between industrial grade drones and commercial drones. Industrial drones are designed to do the work day in and day out, and they have a much more robust construction than drones meant for occasional use.
Industrial grade drones are priced higher because of the industrial nature of their construction and integration of various sensors used for mapping and surveillance and other industrial operations.
Industrial grade drones are constructed to be more accurate and efficient for operations like mapping or surveying any terrain. Many commercial drones allow for some level of camera integration but don’t capture the exact location details of the desired region, which makes them a bad choice for creating accurate maps or taking precise readings.
Sensor control is crucial in controlling industrial drones. Most consumer drones do not control the points at which images are taken. This results in substandard photographs creating more unnecessary data and time-consuming post-processing. This lack of detail could also result in a failed mapping mission.
The type of sensors used in industrial grade drones
- Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) for collision avoidance, navigation and as a 3D scanner.
- Range finders for collision avoidance and navigation.
- PIN diodes for motion detection.
- Cameras for observation, data acquisition, collision avoidance, and navigation.
- Pressure gauges for navigation and data collection GPS for position determination.
The LIDAR, as a sensor, can be used for collision avoidance, obstacle detection, as well as terrain mapping, as the drone is autonomously fly on a worksite, It can take imagery autonomously, for any obstacle and to avoid it in real time.
Industrial grade drone business application
Drones are providing a wide range of operational efficiency in the agriculture sector. Where farmers can benefit from real-time information about large stretches of land. Drones can help track nearly everything including water use, crop health, heat signatures, and soil analysis.
Builders use drones to collect and monitor real-time construction site data and to get a better understanding of what’s happening on site all around. Aerial insights improve progress tracking and help catch problems early and also reduces human error.
Drones provide an efficient way to manage stockpiles and help with grading control, site exploration, and overall management. Drones can also help miners figure out more efficient ways to design roads, landfills, and pits so that it can have less of an impact on the environment. With a single automated flight, a mining drone can collect timely, georeferenced imagery that is quickly transformed into a precise 3D copy of the site.
Drones are seeing real use in industries that need to gather a large amount of visual data or access hard to reach places. Methane sensing, fracking sites, bridge inspection, power generation facilities in coal-fired plants are other examples of UAV applications.
Drones are becoming an integral part of every possible industry vertical and proving to be faster cheaper and safer than the human workforce and might soon take over much of human activities. Many small-medium startups have already started taking advantage of the growing technology.
Explore more about the industrial application of drones and how it can benefit your industry.