Written by: David Melilli
All of you must have watched a scene in a movie where the camera flies over the stunning mountains, vistas or amazing landscape. Well, it is done with drone aerial photography which enables capturing a similar type of landmark footage. The best part is that you do not need to be dependent on a film crew. Instead, you can make use of the remote-controlled drone, also known as Camera Quadcopter.
What are quadcopters
They are recognized to be now-crewed and pilotless aircraft which has the ability to fly with the aid of onboard computers or via control. These types of aircraft are also known as ROA or remotely operated aircraft, RPA or remotely piloted aircraft, RPV or remotely piloted vehicle, etc. These cameras are used primarily by the military. They are also in wide usage in search and rescue operations. They have extensive use in different civil applications like fire fighting and policing. The technology enables hobbyists as well as other enthusiasts to become operators of avid drone.
The drones have the ability of sustained and controlled level flight. It is powered with the aid of electric, reciprocating or jet engine. The concept of these aerial flights is not new or latest ones. The first idea came in the year of 1849. Here is a brief look into the history of drones:
History of quadcopters
UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles contribute to being aircrafts without any onboard passengers or crew. They are able to fly for the long duration of time at a controlled height and speed. They play a vital role in different aspects of aviation in the present days. It was during the First World War when the first pilotless vehicles were built. These early models are known to be launched via flown or catapult with the use of radio control. It was in the year of 1918, that US Army begins producing aerial torpedoes. The model developed was known as Kettering Bug that had flown in a successful manner in certain tests. However, the war came to an end prior to the successful development of this model.
It was during the period of inter-war, the development as well as testing of unmanned aircraft again continued. During the year of 1935, the British had come up with a wide array of radio controlled aircraft that were used as targets for different training purposes. It is said that the term drone was coined and used during the specific time. It was inspired by the name of the model of DH.82B Queen Bee. The manufacturing of Radio controlled drones was accomplished in the country of United STates. They were mainly used during the time for training and target practice.
The use of Renaissance UAV was accomplished on an extensive scale during the Vietnam War. The drone at the time was used in a plethora of new roles such as the launch of missiles against the fixed targets, functioning as the decoys in the combat, and dropping of leaflets for different psychological operations.
After the Vietnam war, several other countries apart from the United States and Britain started exploring the unmanned aerial technology with all seriousness. New models became highly sophisticated along with improvised endurance as well as the capability of maintaining greater height. In the present years, a wide array of models have been developed which utilize technology like solar power for dealing with the issue of providing fuel to longer flights.
Today, a drone has a wide array of functions that range from monitoring of changes in climate to the carrying out of different search operations after photography, natural disasters, delivering of goods, filming. But they had their controversial and most popular usage in targeted and surveillance attacks, reconnaissance.
After the terrorist attack of 9/11, the country of America has enhanced the usage of drones in a significant manner. They are primarily used for surveillance in terrains and areas where troops are not capable of going safely. They are also used as the weapons. Thus, these drones have earned the credit of killing suspected militants. However, their usage in the recent conflicts and other countries have raised eyebrows regarding the ethics of similar kind of weapon, especially when they caused the death of civilian owing to inaccurate data or wrong selection of the target.
Have a look at the early attempts prior to successful creation of today’s drone
This is essentially a four-rotor helicopter which was designed by Louis Breguet. It was known to the first rotary wing aircraft for lifting itself from the ground, only in tethered flight which was at an altitude of few feet. In the year of 1908, it is reported to have flown a number of times. As it rose from the ground in a vertical manner with the pilot during the summer of 1907, the Gyroplane No.1 developed by Breguet and Louis with the assistance of Professor Charles Richet require a man who was standing at the extreme point of each of the four arms, rendering support to the rotors. Hence, it cannot be counted at the first helicopter for making a free flight, notwithstanding the fact that there were no contribution o ground helpers in lifting the rotors. However, it was recognized to be the first vehicle which was successful in raising itself without the assistance of a pilot, with the aid of rotating wing system of lift, vertically off the ground. The Breguet machine comprises of rectangular central chassis of the steel tunning that renders support to pilot and powerplant.
It was not possible to control or steerable the Breguet-Richet aircraft in the horizontal plane. It was in the year of 1908, the Breguet-Richet collaboration was successful in the production of No.2 Gyroplane which was powered with 55hp Renault engine. It had two forward tilting rotors of 7.85m diameter with 2 blades. In addition to this, fixed wings confer an additional lifting surface of 50 sq.m.
A new power plant of lightweight was available after the turning of the century. Fitted to box-kite airplanes and earlier automobiles, the gasoline engine started proving itself. It was in the year of 1907, French designer Louis Breguet was successful in developing a primitive helicopter which was successful in lifting a man into the air.
It was in the following year when Breguet was successful in producing the second helicopter that was furnished with the assistance of twin rotors of 25 foot which was powered with 55hp Renault engine. In the year of 1908, it has risen to .5 m ht vertically and flew for a specific short period of time. However, the machine was damaged completely after landing.
Etienne Oemichen was a young engineer with Peugeot moto car company who started experimenting with the rotating-wing designs in the year of 1920 in different designs and developed six unique vertical take-off machines. As the first among them had failed in developing sufficient lift from the 25hp engine and twin rotors for giving rise off the ground, he added the hydrogen-filled balloon above it for conferring lift and stability. The helicopter 2 contributes to being the most striking and noteworthy aircraft from him which does not have anything less than 8 propellers and 4 rotors. It was driven with the aid of singular 120hp Le Rhone rotary engine as it flew in the year of 1922 for the first time. It was substituted by 180hp Gnome engine at a later off stage. The Oemichen No.2 used to be a steel-tube framework with cruciform layout along with paddle-shaped rotors with 2 blades, present at the extreme endpoint of the four arms. It was possible to vary the angle of the blades via warping. Five of the propellers that turn into horizontal plane was known for stabilizing the machine in a later way. Another propeller which was mounted at the nose was essentially for steering the helicopter and remaining pair functioned as the pusher propeller for the purpose of forwarding propulsion. The Oemichen No.2 showcased a considerable amount of controllability and stability and during the 1920s, it was successful in making over thousand test flights. By the year of 1923, it was successful in remaining airborne at a single time for several minutes whereas, in the year of 1924, it was able to establish the first ever FAI distances record for the helicopter of 360m. After three days, it enhanced this to 525m whereas on 4th May, it was able to fly more than one mile for duration of 14 minutes.
de Bothezat helicopter
It was in the year of 1921, the US Army Air Corps provided a contract to Ivan Jerome and Dr. George de Bothezat for the development of a vertical flight machine. The X shaped structure of 1678kg renders support to the six-blade rotor with a diameter of 8.1m at every end of 9m arms. At the extreme point of the lateral arms, two small propellers along with variable pitch were used for the purpose of yaw and thrusting control. A smaller lifting rotor was mounted on the Le Rhone radial engine with 180 hp at the junction of different frames. It was however removed at a later off stage since it was not necessary. Every rotor had the individual collective pitch control for the production of differential thrust via vehicle inclination for the purpose of translation. The aircraft that had a weight of 1700kg were able to take up and it was in October 1922, when it had its first flight. The engine was upgraded soon to Bentley BR-2 rotary of 220hp. By the end of the year 1923, almost 100 flights were developed which came to be known as the Wright Field near Dayton, Ohio. It was inclusive of three passengers who used to hang over the airframe. Though it required a hovering of 100m according to the contract, it was successful in reaching the highest elevation of 5m. After spending almost $200,000, de Bothezat told that his vehicle had high stability and the practical helicopter was possible theoretically. It was however mechanically complicated, unresponsive, and prone to reliability issues. In addition to this, the Pilot workload was very high during hover for attempting the lateral motion. It was in the latter part of 1930, de Bothezat developed a coaxial helicopter with a single seat which however had much lesser success.
Convertawings Model A Quadrotor
Convertawings revived the concept of Oemichan that was tried in the year of 1922 where the helicopter had four rotors. He also revived the concept of G. de Bothezat in the country of United States where a double side-by-side arrangement of the four rotors had embodied the first helicopter which was ordered by US Army. Owing to the additional development of Covertawings on the specific configuration, the first prototype was accomplished in the year of 1955 and it flew in a successful manner ever since. There was a projection of two additional helicopters on the same lines. The four rotors of this helicopter are known to be mounted on the outriggers in the dual tandem pairs laterally. The control mechanism is simplified extremely and procured by the difference of change of thrust amidst the rotors. Though there is no cyclic control, collective control is present. In the experimental prototype, the tubular steel was the fuselage, the booms that render support to the rotors in the aluminum alloy. Power is imparted to the two engines that are connected to the rotor drive system with the aid of numerous vee belts. Transmission and shafting cases ensure that an inter-connection exists between four rotors and hence during needs, any of the engines are capable of driving all of them. A tricycle undercarriage exists with the two wheels present at the rear section along with the nose wheel which is capable of swiveling.
It was in the year of 1956 when the first flight took place. In the US, a multiple-rotor design used to be the four-rotor quadrotor which flew on Long Island by D.H. Kaplan, the designer, and test pilot. The positioning of four rotors was positioned in the H configuration. The design is equipped with simplified hubs along with strap-mounted blades. Parts of the multi-rotor aircraft appeal are such that they are capable of designing for the elimination of complicated cyclic-pitch control systems. It is possible to achieve the control in roll and pitch with a unique collective pitch between the rotors.
The system was designed in such a way that almost any type of combination of changes in the collective pitch can be introduced into the four rotors, thereby providing a variance in rotor thrust as well as yielding a powerful control. For instance, rolling Quadrotor to a single side, the pitch of both the rotors on the specific side will be raised whereas the pitch of the rotors present on the other side was reduced. For achieving the directional control, the four-rotor masts will be inclined inwards in a slight manner from the vertical; the two forward rotors are known to be tiled aft whereas the dual rear rotors are forward. By providing variance in the rotor thrust, it is possible to produce forces which are capable of yawning the aircraft around the vertical axis.
In spite of the successful development and testing, military support for the machine was stopped post to a cutback in defense expenses. However, the design, specifically the control system used to be a precursor of the recent experimental aircraft designs which incorporate square configuration or tandem wings of four jets, ducts or fans.
The Curtiss-Wright VZ-7 was created in order to accomplish the requirement of Army Transportation Corps for light VTOL utility vehicle of flying Jeep type. The Santa Barbara Divison of Curtiss-Wright was provided the award of Army contract in the year of 1956 for the first flight testing and development of two prototype aircraft. The vehicles were delivered in the mid of 1958. The VZ-7 used to be of very simple design. It comprises of the rectangular central airframe to which were attached the four vertically-mounted propellers in the square pattern. The central fuselage carried the seat of the pilot, fuel, flight control and engine. Both the prototypes had ducted fans, though both of them were modified eventually for the operation with the unshrouded propellers. The control system of VZ-7 used to be simple. The controlling of directional movement was done with the variance of the thurst of every individual propeller along with added yaw control that was conferred by moveable vanes.
Both the VZ-7 was successful in conferring adequate performance during the initial flight test program of the builder. After evaluation by the army, both of them provided the right functions. The craft was able to hover as well as forward the flight. It was proved to be stable relatively and can be operated with ease. However, the design was not capable of accomplishing the speed and altitude requirements as specified by the Army. Hence, both of them were withdrawn from the service during the mid of 1960.
In the past few decades, unmanned aerial vehicles of small-scale found extensive usage in a wide array of applications. The requirement for aircraft with higher hovering ability and maneuverability has given rise to the quadcopter research. The four-rotor design enables the quadcopters to be of simpler design relatively, yet maneuverable and highly reliable. Research is enhancing the capabilities of the quadcopters by making different advances in environment exploration, multi-craft communication, and maneuverability. With the combination of developing qualities, quadcopters are able to continue advanced and autonomous missions which cannot be achieved with other vehicles.
Some of the recent developments are inclusive of
The Bell Boeing Quad Tiltrotor concept which utilized the fixed quadcopter concept by the combination of the same with the tilt-rotor concept for the proposed military transport of C-130 size.
ArduCopter and AeroQuad contribute to being open source software and hardware projections which are based on Arduino with an eye to DIY construction of quadcopters
Parrot AR. Drone is recognized to be a small Quadcopter that is controlled by radios and have cameras attached to the same. It was designed for being controllable by tablet devices or smart phones.
Nixie contributes to being a small drone equipped with a camera which you can wear as wristbands.
Airbus is developing a Quadcopter powered by a battery for functioning as the urban air taxi.
Benefits of drone
The drone has earned a high reputation in several fields in these days. It is used extensively in a plethora of applications which are mentioned below
It is certainly one of the well-renowned applications of the drone. Owing to improvised technology, more and more drones are today well equipped for carrying heavier camera gear which can assist the enthusiasts in the delivery of aerial views of the certain regions.
One of the most crucial aspects of the drone is in the weather forecasting. Thus, it helps in predicting the weather conditions. With effective sensors and exceptional cameras, the drones are capable of collecting prerequisite information which is used in predicting the weather forecast.
Detection of bombs
Due to the smaller size of these drones, they have the capability of penetrating into the constricted spaces. In addition to this, effective cameras make them perfect for detecting bombs. Thus, the aerial vehicles are used for exploring unexploded bombs. Thus, it plays a crucial role in saving lives.
The unmanned aerial vehicles are used for the monitoring of fauna of the regions. There are primarily two advantages of the same. Monitoring of wildlife aid in the prevention of poaching that contributes to being one of the major reasons why a plethora of animals is in danger in these days. In addition to this, the footage from the aerial device can assist in studying animal behavior and analyzing the patterns. The best thing about using the drone for monitoring wildlife is that it does not disturb or affect them. They can also be used with thermal camera sensors during the night with an eye to monitoring them. Thus, the drone is used in different wildlife sanctuaries and national parks for ensuring safety.
Today, the drone has found usage in a wide number of applications in various domains. They are just not limited to military usage. In fact, multiple businesses are investing in these aerial machines for a more responsive and swift customer service.