Mike Harlick examines a new system that allows drones to stay in the air for longer and why drones are not just for hobbyists.
The trouble with drones is the limitation on how long they can fly on a single charge.
Typically, a drone battery can provide 20 minutes of flight time. This is a severe limitation when it comes to some industrial applications. Fortunately, a new solution has come to market to solve this issue.
I went along to the Dublin Fire Brigade training centre to look at the new system being demonstrated by Drone Consultants Ireland.
“A tethered drone can quickly provide temporary communication stations in emergency scenarios, thus providing a vital link during natural disasters and crisis situations.”
No time limits now
The system is a patented micro-tether system designed and manufactured by Elistair. This system connects the drone via a power and data cable to a ground station.
The power line enables drones to fly with no time limit at altitudes of 60, 80 or 100m.
The data cable also allows high-quality video to be quickly transmitted to the ground station.
Now the area you can fly is restricted due to the tether, but with the right camera, a vast area can be observed at 100m.
“The alternative for these applications is a helicopter, so the cost differential is significant.”
Drones are useful for many things
This system is already used for traffic and crowd monitoring, industrial inspections, air quality monitoring and live broadcasting in France.
The alternative for these applications is a helicopter, so the cost differential is significant.
Another unusual allocation is for communications. A tethered drone can quickly provide temporary communication stations in emergency scenarios, thus providing a vital link during natural disasters and crisis situations.
In short, the tether system provides safer flights in demanding conditions, while protecting the people and equipment nearby.
It is well worth looking at for anyone who is interested in industrial uses of drones.
“Although a six motor drone will become unstable when a motor fails; a pilot will still be able to land.”
Preventing a drone plummeting to earth
Another problem with drones is that they have technical failures. This is more prevalent when flying a four-rotor drone. If a motor fails, then the drone will quickly become unstable and fall out of the sky.
Drones are expensive so seeing a drone plummet to earth is not the best experience in the world, along with the danger of such a heavy object falling from the sky.
On the other hand, although a six motor drone will become unstable when a motor fails; a pilot will still be able to land it.
I saw this for myself. Having seen a drone land on five rotors after a failure, I would go for six rotors. (Oh and having the right insurance makes good sense too).