Drones have made significant progress in helping to automate tasks that have traditionally required significant man-hours to complete. Drones are gaining efficiency in collision avoidance and navigation through the use of machine vision. Swarm drone intelligence is helping to allow drones to manage information gathering, picking, and sorting tasks with ease.
Drone swarms make use of emerging technologies to improve upon the efficiency of traditional automated tasks. Things like inventory monitoring and selection, sorting operations for warehousing, and reconnaissance are becoming more easily automated and increasingly accurate as a result.
Drone swarms can also be used for monitoring operations such as wildfire observation, air quality testing, property surveying, and a nearly limitless list of other tasks.
Self-driving / autonomy
Autonomous drones are beginning to make their way into the market alongside self-driving cars. Autonomous drones, like self-driving cars, have to be aware of their surroundings at any given time. It is when this awareness is lacking that collisions occur.
Drone autonomy enables tasks to be automated and human error to be refined gradually out of processes such as product picking and item sorting. Among methods to improve upon drone autonomy are RFID tracking and proper UPC placement for scanning by drones.
Among autonomous drone and flight operations are the Northrop Grumman X47-B Autonomous strike fighter, which recently completed the first in-flight refueling with autonomy and has take-off and landing capabilities with an aircraft carrier.
Machine vision is a technology that has gained significant popularity in recent times due to increases in machine autonomy in tasks that require high precision and attentiveness to details. Machine vision is often applied to drones for collision avoidance and tracking applications, though more industrial applications add significantly to the list of possible uses.
Augmented and Virtual Reality-based flight allows pilots to view the drone’s surroundings from the first-person. First-person viewing enables operators to fly drones out of their line of sight and control multiple drones at a time. Some companies are using Augmented and Virtual Reality navigation to carry out search and rescue missions as well as firefighting operations.
Drones are seeing increased usage in surveying for damage and making repairs. In 2017, the startup Abyss secured $1 million in funding to seek out and mark faults in damming and other aquatic structures using geolocation. Other drones are being used for structural inspection of towers, smokestacks, and other key industrial facilities.
Drones are making their way into use in direct structural reparation. They have established a strong presence in monitoring and surveying construction or other live project sites. The culmination of these trends may well end in self-repairing cities, maintained by autonomous drones.
Drones have flown onto the radar of businesses worldwide as a result of their ability to automate and assist with vertically daunting tasks such as surveying buildings, checking and picking inventory, and carrying out search and rescue missions.