Engineering Headlines

Five promising applications for drones

Civilian drones

Drones have become every day. They are used to inspect gas pipelines, provide parcels and assist disaster relief workers. We have collected some civilian applications.

Logistics: Flying parcel delivery

The public debate took off when Amazon announced to use drones instead of people as packagers.

The arguments, on the other hand, ranged from fears of job losses to concerns about privacy, to the overburden of ground level airspace.

But this technique could not be stopped. Amazon launched its tests for flying parcels in the UK, with drones that are autonomous from the moment they leave the ground, delivering the parcel until returning to the logistics center. In her maiden flight on December 7, 2016, the Amazon drone was already able to transport a package weighing up to 5 pounds (about 2.3 kg).

In Germany, DHL has been operating since the year 2013 with flying delivery drones – the parcel carrier of the package service provider is now in the third generation. It can reach a speed of around 70 km / h and transport up to 2 kg of weight.

Until now, he has been tested in areas that are difficult to access, and in case of urgent transports, such as a drug delivery to the island of Juist.

And what do other companies do in the logistics sector?

The parcel service UPS has developed a delivery car with a drone hangar and starts the surrender helper from the roof of the vehicle. Google has tested last, if warm food can be reliably delivered by drone.

Not only Paketus, but also car makers have discovered drones for transport.

At the plant in Ingolstadt, Audi tested drones as an alternative to the company wide delivery of wares in the factory.

For trucks, forklift trucks, road bound transport systems (FTS) and bicycles need about 15 minutes for an express call.

A drone could provide relief in a third of the time, said Philipp Wrycza of the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML.

The special feature of the intralogistics deployment is, on the one hand, the proximity to humans, which can become a safety risk with a flying total weight of around 5 kg.

In addition, GPS is only available in Werkshallen, so the navigation has to be implemented via Wlan.

Quality: inspection of power plants

Wear on power systems can lead to considerable safety risks.

Whether damaged rotor blades of a wind turbine are detected or leaks in gas pipelines have to be discovered ,drones now assume this task extremely reliably.

Contrary to the package drones, however, the inspection drones have to be controlled by humans.

Nevertheless, their use minimizes the risk and effort for the operators and the inspectors, as the locations to be tested are not infrequent in the air or in the immediate vicinity of steel cables loaded with 110,000 volts.

At the Cebit 2017 in Hanover, the US chip maker Intel introduced in its own Drone Park, which can perform industrial maintenance tasks of its unmanned flying objects (UAV for short).

Matthias Beldzik, responsible for the drone manufacturer Ascending Technologies, is convinced of the cost effectiveness of the remote controlled maintenance.

In an oil drilling rig, the potential savings with a drone would be up to 90% compared to conventional maintenance with scaffoldings. “Such a system must stand still for a long-term inspection. With a drone, it may take 14 days, “Beldzik explained.

For the chip manufacturer, a different argument could have been decisive for the acquisition of Ascending Technologies last year.

The data collected from several drone flights can be used to determine changes in the building structure, strength or surface structure without software.

Security: Drones as disaster relief

Not only do manufacturing companies use drones in their work, but civilian safety officers, such as fire brigades or disaster relief, also use the services of flying assistants.

Equipped with appropriate cameras, drones can document current missions, find missing persons, or update static maps after landslides, so that the helpers know immediately what to expect and how they can get to the place of disaster.

In March 2017, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) tested a system that links aerial photographs to an interactive map and provides rescue workers on the ground as a live map.

Public: enable virtual visits

Last but not least, spectacular impressions of major events or new structures can be conveyed through drones.

So the half-time pause took place at this year’s Super Bowl.

Under a flag of bright quadrocopters and in Germany the opening of the Elbphilharmonie was garnished with an impressive video, with which Curious home in front of the computer can marvel at the new Hamburg landmark from within, in the view of a drone.

There are constantly new additions to the fields of application mentioned above, scientists and entrepreneurs discover the technology for themselves and adapt it to completely new applications.

At the CeBIT 2017, there were some latest innovations to be used, among other things, for the inspection of maritime hulls or in agriculture:


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