The key players of the future – Drones & payloads
Drones are not just machines for recreational use, especially if equipped with payloads (sensors). Various are their uses: surveys, cinematographic shots, photos, precision agriculture, etc. However, drones can be a formidable source for data acquisition or better than Aerial data (A.D.). Let’s see how.
Aerial data like Big data?
It has been estimated that the amount of Big Data generated in 2020 by each person will be 1.7MB of data per second. Is it how many A.D. that are and will be generated by drones? Nobody is able to answer this question. However, given the number of drones in flight each day, which capture data or could potentially do so, it is easy to understand that Aerial data also represent a huge mine of data.
Someone might argue that Big Data has an economic value because it provides detailed information on people’s uses, habits, ways of living and spending. And who can say that Aerial data can’t play the same role?
The availability of data relating to air pollution, images of urban and non-urbanized areas, data relating to the types and distribution of forests, data on agricultural types and productivity, etc. these are just a few examples of databases, which once acquired and processed by companies/people, could provide ad hoc solutions/services to the individual or the community to solve a specific problem or to develop opportunities.
One more step …
Obviously, it is not possible to make any economic comparison between Big Data and Aerial Data. In fact, the latter are not currently collected and even less systematically analyzed. With the exception of some companies, which on demand and for specific projects, acquire and process the data collected by drones equipped with payloads.
However, in the near future, drone and payload manufacturers could play an important role in this sector by promoting the acquisition of data in a widespread way, through the development of open systems (drones), and low-cost paylaods (sensors), weight and energy consumption.
The next step, the creation of a market for A.D. would be only an inevitable consequence. With the development of broad-spectrum sensors, each drone in flight could not only perform its normal activity, but also collect aerial data.
Plug-and-play sensors and “open” drones
The instruments for the acquisition of Aerial data by drones are the sensors. Drone manufacturers on the one hand and sensor manufacturers on the other, have not yet metabolized the opportunity deriving from the development of “drones open” to the installation of plug and play sensors.
This type of sensor, low cost, light, with low energy consumption, easy to install, equipped with an open interface for reading the data, which facilitated the extraction by the pilot, would be the keystone for the Aerial date.
The production of such sensors, however, if not supported by the development of “open” UAVs/Drones systems, equipped with additional installation slots for chip/micro SD would not make any sense.
The effort therefore to open up to Aerial data must be made by all the players involved: drone producers and payload producers.
Towards thematic Databases
Through a vision of more push-and-play plug-and-play sensors, LIDAR, thermal imaging cameras, multispectral sensors, pollution analyzers, etc. they could have a much more widespread diffusion, they could also be installed on drones that are not necessarily professional. The possibility of data extraction through the connection of the sensor with a tablet or PC would also favor the use of drones in the most diverse sectors of activity.
The direct consequence would therefore be the spontaneous birth of numerous thematic databases – and a proliferation of Aerial data – which would favor the emergence of new business opportunities and would also constitute a valuable source for example for environmental research activities.
Aerial data analytics & Aerial data intelligence
The logical consequence of the generation of Aerial data would also be that of the development (or re-use) of software tools for carrying out the Aerial data analytics, or post-processing and data interpretation. The definition of a standard for data generation would also favor data interoperability through the various software systems.
Aerial data intelligence, or the interpretation of data through software based on artificial intelligence algorithms, would then open the doors to scenarios unthinkable today.
Drones or UAVs, able to act and operate choices both on the basis of acquired data and on artificial intelligence algorithms, would give life to real drones capable of assisting man in many activities.
To date, Aerial data are mainly represented by images whose purpose is to build 2D/ 3D maps. Associating A.D. with images only is a myopic vision, considering that the A.D. that can be acquired go far beyond simple photos.
Both commercial and professional drones, now widespread in a capillary way, equipped with payloads can play a strategic role in the acquisition of value-added data, if equipped with the appropriate tools to do so. Light, economic, low-consumption sensors that can be installed on all drones can represent the keystone in the development of new frontiers and opportunities.
Note related to images: Some of the images showed in the article are taken from pixabay.com, and are free for commercial use, with no attribution request. Others images are from YellowScan website. Each image however mentions the author who is its legitimate owner. The use of the images is exclusively for the purpose of a better understanding of the contents of the article. The featured image, taken from pixabay.com with author Geralt and has been reworked by 4mydrone.
Last Updated on/Ultimo aggiornamento – 28/07/2020