Large Flying Robots
Referring to a Remotely Operated Aerial Vehicle (ROAV), or Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicle (RPAV) as a "Drone" is a misnomer. A drone is a fully autonomous vehicle that is not operated by a human, but it has become so deeply embedded within the public psyche that it is here to stay. Even the aerospace and defence industry have attempted to eradicate the term, preferring the terms Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), but it continues to endure. The types of drones developed by them are also increasingly being utilised by charities and private sector organisations to effect positive change. Examples include deforestation prevention, anti-poaching, and environmental monitoring. As you will see from the above illustration, drones vary greatly both in size and composition.
Medium Flying Robots
Although difficult to accurately categorise, the new breed of battery-powered drones, aimed at the consumer and semi-professional market, burst onto the scene a few years ago. Unlike military drones that were inspired by aircraft design, these new entrants are a by-product of the consumer electronics industry. Due to economies of scale, they have become increasingly affordable, and are now selling by the million. Although far cheaper and more versatile, they do come with one major limitation compared to their military counterparts. As they are not powered by combustion engines, they can only remain airborne for the duration of a single battery charge. Unlike military drones that are capable of remaining airborne for 6 hours or more, they typically only last around 30 minutes. Some custom-built drones can fly for up to two hours, but they are far more expensive than standard "off-the-shelf" models, and they tend to be used by professionals for niche applications such as high-value asset inspection, crop monitoring, and industrial land surveying. If air time is more important than the ability to hover, fixed wing drones can be used instead of rotor-drones. As you will see, the consumer-friendly AR Parrot that was dwarfed by the far larger military grade drones, looks far more at home alongside these professional spec drones. This is why the lines are becoming increasingly blurred between professional spec and consumer spec.
Little Flying Robots
As with almost every category of drone today, terminology remains very confusing. What we mean by the term "micro drone" is a quad-copter that can be as small as a human hand, or as large as a plate. We think this category of drone has a very bright future, primarily because they are large enough to offer utility, but small, light and quiet enough to operate around people, property, and pets. We are therefore convinced that this category of drone will go from being toys to incredibly useful utilitarian tools that will become ubiquitous within factories, stores, warehouses, shopping malls, offices, and domestic environments throughout the world. Although they currently suffer greatly from very limited flight time, innovations in battery technology and flight-extending techniques will solve this issue. For example, it may be possible to tether a power supply, or use relay charging, where one drone attaches to a power socket, while another remains airborne. Within the next few years little flying robots will come with highly advanced onboard AI chips that will contain neural networks capable of enabling them to be fully autonomous and incredibly smart!
Nano Flying Robots
The trend towards miniaturisation continues. Mab is an automated cleaning system, consisting of hundreds of flying micro-robots. It was a concept developed by the winner of an innovation competition run by the Electrolux Design Lab. Although it is unlikely to become commercially available any time soon, it is technologically feasible. Another major technological advancement that's pushing the trend towards miniaturisation even further is nano robotics. Today it's possible to assemble very basic nano-sized machines constructed with components sized from 10 microns (a human hair is around 75 microns) down to a tenth of a micron. Swarms of these nano-sized robots could one day be used to break down nuclear waste, or even cure diseases such as cancer. Proof that little flying robots really are going to change the world!
Although drones come in many different sizes and form factors, we specialise in developing commercial opportunities that relate exclusiely to little flying robots.