Manned Aerial Surveillance Drones and Aircraft will allow the real-time monitoring of entire urban populations. Advances in camera technology and biometric recognition are now used by law enforcement to follow individuals across cities and in crowds. Corporate aerial surveillance is a growing field and a growing privacy threat. EPIC opposes the use of mass surveying.
Or rather, what is known as indiscriminate aerial surveillance. In the United States, privacy rights toward drone photography and other mapping survey tools are often regulated state-to-state and are still being worked out. Notwithstanding, some states ban all aerial photography of private property. But there are still more benefits we can realize from using them.
Given technological innovations, many different drone sizes and designs exist, including fixed-wing with propeller or jet engines and many rotor-based techniques. Fixed-wing craft often has an edge on altitude and endurance but lacks the maneuverability of rotor-based craft vessels. They are generally more threatening because they are often chosen for military operations.
In a nutshell, Aerial Surveillance Drones, in terms of photography, help us to capture still images and video by a remotely-operated or autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), also known as an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) or, more commonly, a drone. With that in mind, let’s now learn more about the role of drones in powering photography and mapping.
Getting To Know The Real Aerial Surveillance Drones Meaning And Work
To enumerate an aerial surveillance drone is an unmanned aircraft. Drones are more formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles or unmanned aircraft systems. In other words, a drone is a flying platform (robot) that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously. It uses a software-controlled flight plan in its embedded systems that work with onboard sensors and a GPS.
Until their activation to use the Global Positioning System (GPS), UAVs were most often associated with the military. They were initially used for anti-aircraft target practice, intelligence gathering, and, more controversially, as weapons platforms. It’s no miracle that the most common system used today for navigation and much more is the Global Positioning System.
By just pressing a button on the smartphone, you can find where you are in the world with near-pinpoint accuracy — something that would have seemed like magic not long ago is taken for granted today. Drones are designed to be nimble and relatively unobtrusive. A diverse number of industries use them to execute complex tasks.
In many instances, these tasks may otherwise be extremely difficult or costly to achieve without the assistance of drones. The apps result are equally diverse, ranging from boosted creativity to commercial and communal outreach.
How the functionality of drones looks like:
- For beginners and newcomers, it’s worth mentioning that drones have two essential functions: flight mode and navigation. Drones must have a power source, such as a battery or fuel, to fly. They also have rotors, propellers, and a frame. The frame of a drone is typically made of a lightweight composite material to reduce weight and increase maneuverability.
- Drones require a controller, which lets the operator use remote controls to launch, navigate and land the aircraft. Controllers use radio waves, Wi-Fi, or other networked internet hubs to communicate with drones.
- Drones use visual positioning systems with downward-facing cameras and ultrasonic sensors for landing. The ultrasonic sensors determine how close the drone is to the ground.
Their increasing presence in the environment is enabled by the combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI), networking, Machine Learning (ML), robotics, and other related science and technology fields. These advanced AI-capable drones can adapt to their environment and perform many autonomous tasks, like taking a drone-based selfie (also known as a “dronie”).
Or rather, by following an owner and taking pictures or filming while they walk around or travel in a vehicle. Drones significantly reduce the cost of aerial surveillance; they make it easy for anyone to use them and can be equipped with numerous surveillance technology. However, there are no well-established privacy protections to prevent widespread aerial surveillance.
Understanding How Aerial Surveillance Drones Help Capturing Data
As mentioned, a drone is an aerial vehicle designed to work without a human pilot onboard. At the same time, drones can be remote-controlled or fully automated. However, a few factors can still make drones a severe threat to privacy. But a few benefits of using drones in our day-to-day operations are worth mentioning, especially in photography and mapping locations.
For your information, the costs of consumer drones can range from under $100 to several thousand dollars. A recent high-end camera designed for drone use, the 80mp iXU 180, is priced at $60,000. Flying drones equipped with computer vision, face recognition, object recognition, and other tracking technologies are sort of robots that are either independent or manned.
Surveillance drones are unmanned aircraft that gather still images, video recordings, or live videos of targets such as people, vehicles, or specific areas. They may be used by governments, militaries, law enforcement, or commercial entities to gather information and intelligence that can be used to assist decision-making. They are now also used in a range of civilian roles.
Including the following:
- search and rescue
- real-time ground surveillance
- traffic monitoring
- weather monitoring
- personal use
- drone-based photography
- delivery services
Drones offer a range of benefits for various businesses and industries, including cost savings, increased safety, improved efficiency, etc. They can replace traditional photography, mapping, mining, or surveying methods. And as a result, reducing labor and equipment costs and completing surveys more quickly, resulting in significant cost savings.
Drone Photography allows images and audio/video to be captured that might otherwise be impossible for human photographers and videographers. That capacity can be enabled by the flight abilities of drones, their small size, or their ability to tolerate harsh environments. It often allows the First Person View (FPV) which is impossible to achieve in typical cases.
You might have seen one of these devices. Ordinarily, it gives itself away with a high-pitched whizz, almost like a giant mosquito, and it hovers in the sky, taking footage or photographs of the ground below. Drone photography is used in surveillance to gain intelligence against enemy targets by government agencies in war and for competitive intelligence by businesses.
It is used in journalism, law enforcement, and spying. It is also used artistically and in journalism to capture previously impossible or extremely costly helicopter photography. It’s a high paying professional. In most cases, you will find that drone users are professional photographers looking to profit from their craft. This means they value quality and technology.
They tend to purchase any tool to help them with the process. It’s likely, however, that you are simply an amateur photographer. It offers the standard user a new way to see and capture the world around them. Most photographers are limited to their vantage points; a drone provides a birds-eye view, capturing landscape shots that would be impossible with a phone.
Drone Mapping (sometimes called drone surveying) is a reasonably straightforward way to collect data with drones. As its name suggests, it involves mapping an area of your choice with a drone to produce all kinds of valuable outputs like orthomosaic, 3D models, digital elevation, etc. It allows highly detailed data collection across a large area that isn’t possible through satellite.
Or rather, when sometimes the required data collection process demands a more advanced technology than traditional ground surveying. Drone mapping works by taking many aerial images of an area of interest. Through photogrammetry, these images are turned into a single complete orthomosaic image. Also, all the image objects and features in an orthomosaic are scaled.
And then, after that, they can easily be georeferenced. This means making location, distance, and area measurements possible. Often, the photogrammetry software can also determine 3D characteristics in an environment. Therefore, output from drone mapping can be used to create digital replicas of real areas for analysis.
While all drones come with a GNSS (including GPS) receiver, they’re usually only accurate to a few meters. For better accuracy, you need to use GCPs, PPK, or RTK systems. GCPs are points on the ground with a known position and are the traditional method for improving the positional accuracy of drone mapping. Learn how to start drone mapping in detail.
For example, it’s worth noting that using drones for real estate marketing is an excellent way to showcase a property. It helps buyers visualize the layout of the property and its surroundings. As the real estate industry resumes momentum post-COVID-19 pandemic, agents must have an edge over their competitors. Drones allow them to capture elite visuals of the property.
At the same time, they also help enhance the property’s market value. For home buyers, seeing is believing. Well-shot drone footage creates a sense of excitement and optimism about the property’s potential that cannot be replicated through 2D photos and written descriptions. Moreover, a drone can easily show the condition of the roof and gutters of the property.
As well as other property features that are otherwise difficult to capture from ground level. It also helps highlight nearby amenities, such as schools and parks, that can boost the property’s appeal to prospective buyers. These aspects are essential to entice the tech-savvy millennials who make up most of today’s homebuyers. Aerial footage adds unique real estate touch.
It shows homebuyers the lifestyle they could enjoy if they purchased the property. This creates excitement and interest in the listing, which can help realtors get more appointments with potential buyers. This technology is also a great way to market luxury property sellers to capture amazing aerial photos of a house of any luxury estate and give viewers a sense of the space.
Surveillance drones can be equipped with sophisticated imaging technology to obtain detailed photographs of the terrain, people, homes, and even small objects. Drones regularly carry high-resolution cameras, infrared cameras, heat sensors, GPS sensors that detect movement, and automated license plate readers. These cameras may include facial recognition technology.
Usually, such tech makes it possible to identify individuals from a distance without their skills remotely. For example, thermal sensors make surveillance and security apps possible, such as livestock monitoring and heat-signature detection. Hyperspectral sensors help identify minerals and vegetation and are ideal for crop health, water quality, and land.
Poaching is devastating endangered wildlife populations globally. Conservationist groups have been working for decades to protect animals by migrating them into protected lands like sanctuaries and national parks. Yet many poachers still trespass into these parks to kill the animals. Therefore, conservationists must strategize new ways to secure these locations.
And also to help prevent people with malicious intent from entering. Recently, the conservationist community has discovered how to use drones to help protect wildlife. Conservationists can patrol the parks to deter poachers using a drone equipped with night vision optics or thermal sensors. One example can be found at Liwonde National Park in Liwonde, Malawi.
Drone Mining is something that even the top companies in the world have already started integrating into their mining process. Drones have proven vital tools across every part and phase of a mine site — from exploration to drilling and blasting to reclamation. Today, the question about drones is no longer if they work but which drone platforms are best for mining.
Using drones for mining and exploration has become increasingly popular in recent years. While many types of drones are available, each with its unique advantages and disadvantages, it is essential to understand the pros and cons of each drone type before selecting the best one for your needs. That said, drones can map the mine locations and survey mining sites.
They can quickly generate detailed maps and aerial models of the land and provide data on topography, vegetation, and infrastructure. This helps mining and exploration companies plan their operations more effectively and efficiently. Drones can also be used for resource exploration using multi-spectral sensors to detect minerals and other air-based resources.
Usually, this data information can be used to identify potential mining sites and aid in the exploration process. In addition, drones can be used for safety inspections. They can inspect large-scale areas and equipment to identify potential hazards. Eventually, this can help reduce the risk of accidents and ensure that the mining operations run safely and efficiently.
An amateur filmmaker can record high-quality aerial shots using only a drone equipped with a high-definition camera. Less than two decades ago, recording from this perspective was only consistently an option for large movie studios that could afford to use cranes, helicopters, and airplanes. A single day of a helicopter shoot may cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Thus, buying a basic filming drone for a few thousand dollars can be far more appealing for modern filmmakers — although renting higher-end professional drones may exceed $5,000 for a single day’s use. Besides their costs being more manageable, drones are also helpful due to their versatility. They are usually relatively small in size, so they are great when shooting a movie.
Or a scene that requires entering a tight space or moving nimbly. Yet, they are not a complete replacement for conventional aircraft in the film industry. While the size of drones allows users to record shots that wouldn’t be possible using a manned aircraft, some filmmakers believe that helicopters are still preferable for shooting high-speed action scenes like car chases.
It’s important to realize that drones were once a tool used almost exclusively for military uses, but modern engineering has made them accessible and affordable to private citizens. War zones are hazardous, and war journalists would generally need to risk their lives to record events as they unfold. Using drones, journalists can record the destruction of war remotely.
More so without compromising their safety. This makes it possible to accurately represent the reality of war using firsthand visual accounts filmed accurately with actual data from war-afflicted areas. Sometimes, those in war-inflicted zones can receive small packages — like food, clothes, medicines, communication tools, etc. — before real help arrives at their rescue.
On the same note, the future of drone technology will also give consumers the highly convenient option to receive their deliveries by drone. Amazon is at the forefront of making this a reality. Its upcoming Amazon Prime Air service is expected to allow customers to request drone delivery for packages weighing up to five pounds.
How will the process work?
- A customer purchases a product.
- The delivery drone is dispatched to an address or the customer’s smartphone GPS.
- Upon the arrival of the drone, the customer uses their phone to flash a QR code, barcode, or LED signal to the drone, validating them as the correct customer.
- The product is then lowered from a safe height using a pulley system and released for the customer.
This application of drone technology has the potential to make delivery far more efficient soon. However, due to government regulations and public safety concerns, no widespread drone delivery services operate at total capacity. The firms interested in drone delivery services must emphasize designing and implementing safe and ethical systems.
At the same time, such systems must be powered by autonomous technology and innovative seamless platforms that will not endanger their customers or the public.
To create accurate weather forecasts, meteorologists must measure weather data from various sensors, usually affixed to satellites or surface equipment. These tools collect data that can be used to predict typical weather changes like precipitation or even violent storms like tornadoes. Scientists are now working to incorporate unmanned aircraft into the forecast process.
In particular, by using drones to collect research data. Flying through a storm can be dangerous, but drones can enter storms to collect and measure or manage temperature, pressure, humidity, and wind velocity measurements without risking lives. This data can be used to provide advanced storm warnings, giving people more time to take precautions or evacuate.
As drones become more robust, industry leaders expect them to become a regular aspect of weather measurement and forecasting. Although unmanned aerial vehicles have existed for several decades, over the past 20 years, the tech has seen significant advancements. A Master of Science in Electrical Engineering can enhance aspiring professional skills.
As well as improve their understanding of the fundamental tenets of electronics engineering. In doing so, they can improve their ability to contribute positively to the design process of complex electronic devices like drones.
How Are Aerial Surveillance Drones Regulations Like
It’s important to realize that as long as drones are under 35kg, no special permits are required by private citizens looking to use drones non-commercially. Special flight operations certificates are necessary for drones over 35kgs, but most personal drones are under that weight limit. For commercial purposes, the Federal Aviation Administration requires some certification proof.
More so, with a stamp of user authorization. Other regulations include restricting flights above 400ft or within two miles of an airport. The ever-advancing drone technology makes them more accessible and easier to fly around. Even on relatively cheap drones, the technology can do much to help keep drones stable in the air and from crashing into objects.
To shed some light, in 2012, the US Congress mandated the Federal Aviation Administration integrate drones into the National Airspace, yet there are still no clear rules protecting individual privacy against drone surveillance. Of course, drone surveillance implicates significant First Amendment and Fourth Amendment interests and common law privacy rights.
But the law around conducting aerial surveillance remains in a gray area. This is particularly true for companies or individuals that might use drones for aerial surveillance since they are not subject to the First and Fourth amendment like the government. Without specific, enforceable rules, there will be the constant threat of drone surveillance every time you step outside.
Part of what makes drones such a valuable technology is their ability to collect large volumes of data. While drones can collect data in many ways, drone mapping is one of the most widespread methods. From real estate to environmental science to mining, drone mapping has been a game changer, and as technology advances, it’s becoming useful in more and more fields.
Drones are far cheaper to use for aerial surveillance than traditional crewed aircraft. A drone is generally more affordable than a plane and does not require an expensive certified pilot. Professional-level drones with high-end cameras can be had for a few $1000s, while even drones well under $1000 often can take high-quality pictures and video.
The cost of drones makes widespread aerial surveillance possible. Not only can more people afford drones, but more people can also fly drones. You generally do not need a pilot license to fly a drone. Moreover, some drones are also capable of flying fully autonomously. No matter which type of drone you choose for mining and exploration, it is essential to do enough research.
So you can understand the pros and cons of each type before making your decision. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each type of drone, you can select the best one for your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Is a drone a good tool for photography?
Sure, a drone can give you technically better photographs, but they might hamper your improvement when it comes to photography. It’s easy enough to get the drone out when you want a good shot, but that stops you from being creative and taking the picture uniquely.
2. How does aerial drone technology help?
Drones regularly carry high-resolution cameras, infrared cameras, heat sensors, GPS sensors that detect movement, and automated license plate readers. Beyond surveillance and delivery applications, UAVs are used for drone journalism, search & rescue, disaster response, asset protection, wildlife monitoring, firefighting, messages relay, healthcare, and agri.
3. How far can a typical drone go?
Well, all that depends on and is quite elaborate… A high-end consumer drone can range roughly 2.5 to 4.5 miles (4 to 8 kilometers), whereas a toy drone may only have a range of 20 to 100 yards. At the same time, a typical range for mid-level consumer drones is between 400 meters to three kilometers, or 0.25 to 1.5 miles. Military drones generally fly at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet, although some may have lower ceiling limits.
4. What are the disadvantages of using drones?
Drones can be expensive to purchase, maintain, and operate, especially for small businesses or individuals. In addition, the software and equipment needed to process and analyze the data collected by drones can also be costly. Another potential drawback of drone surveying is the limited flying time of most drones.
5. Which drone is best for mining operations?
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is a popular drone for mining and exploration operations. Its various advanced features make it ideal for surveying and mapping large areas. Also, it has a maximum flight time of 30 minutes, making it suitable for long-range missions. It’s possible to save time and money with the best mining drone with the correct application tools that would otherwise present enormous challenges with a sub-par system.