How Do Drones Work And What Is Drone Technology - LEKULE BLOG


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Saturday, 23 January 2016

How Do Drones Work And What Is Drone Technology

How drones work and what exactly is drone technology is a broad subject which is constantly evolving with new innovation and even better drones coming to the market every few months.  In this article, I will discuss UAV technology on one of the most popular drones on the market today which has plenty of top drone technology.  Most drones will have very similar systems incorporated.
Unmanned aerial vehicle technology and science in the widest aspect covers everything from the aerodynamics of the drone, materials in the manufacture of the physical UAV, to the circuit boards, chipsets and software which are the brains of the drone.

One of the most popular drones on the market today is the Phantom 2 Vision+.  It uses plenty of advanced technology and it is very popular with professional cinematographers.  This UAV is ideal to explain drone technology because it has everything in the one package.  It includes the UAV, gimbal and camera and uses some of the top drone technology on the market today.
In only a few months since writing this article, more advanced drones with newer systems have come to the market. Please read about the latest drone technology in our drone reviews section and in particular the highly advanced Inspire 1.

How Drones Work

A typical unmanned aircraft is made of light composite materials to reduce weight and increase manoeuvrability. This composite material strength allows military drones to cruise at extremely high altitudes. Drones are equipped with different state of the art technology such as infra-red cameras(military UAV), GPS and laser (military UAV). Drones can be controlled by remote control system or a ground cockpit. Drones come in a wide variety of sizes, with the large drone mostly used for military purposes such as the Predator drone, other smaller drones which can be launched by hand, to other unmanned aircraft which require short runways. An unmanned aerial vehicle system has two parts, the drone itself and the control system.  

The nose of the unmanned aerial vehicle is where all the sensors and navigational systems are present. The rest of the body is complete innovation since there is no loss for space to accommodate humans and also light weight. The engineering materials used to build the drone are highly complex composites which can absorb vibration which decreases the noise produced.  Description from Read & Digest.

What Is Drone Technology

Below we examine the science behind the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ UAV.  Another terrific article which you can read gives you a breakdown of individual drone components.

Radar Positioning & Return Home

  • The flight radar displays the current position and location  of the drone in relation to the pilot.
  • Exceeding the control range of the remote control will trigger ‘Return-to-Home’, meaning the UAV will automatically fly back to its takeoff point and land safely.

Onscreen Real-Time Flight Parameters

Keep track of current flight telemetry and see what your drone sees on your mobile device.

Information on what is drone technology and how does drone technology work in Quadcopters

No Fly Zone Drone Technology

In order to increase flight safety and prevent accidental flights in restricted areas, the new firmware for the Phantom UAV series includes a “No Fly Zone feature”.  These no fly zones have been divided into two categories: A and B.

GPS Ready To Fly Mode Drone Technology

When the compass s is calibrated, the drone then seeks the location of GPS satellites. When more than 6 are found, it allows the drone to fly in “Ready To Fly” Mode.

Internal Compass & Failsafe Function

Allows the UAV and remote control system to know exactly it’s flight location.  Calibration of the Compass is required to set a home point.  The home point is the location where the drone will return to in case of loss of signal between the drone and the remote control system.  This is also know as “failsafe function”.

FPV (First Person View) Drone Technology

What FPV means is “First Person View” which means a video camera is mounted on the unmanned aerial vehichle and broadcasts the live video to the pilot on the ground so the pilot is flying the aircraft as if he/she was onboard the aircraft instead of looking at the craft from the pilot’s actual ground position. FPV allows the unmanned aircraft to fly much higher and further than you can from the looking at the aircraft from the ground.  FPV control allows for more precise flying around obstacles especially with unmanned aerial vehicles which can easily fly indoors and through forests via FPV where you would not be able to see obstacles from a fixed position.

Flight Assistant Port

The flight control system communicates with a PC Assistant through a Micro-USB cable. This allows configuration of the UAV and upgrade the firmware.

LED Flight Indicators

These are found at the front and the rear of the drone. The front LEDs are for indicating where the nose of the drone is. The rear LEDs flight indicators light up to show the drones current flight status when the flight battery is turned on.
describes the technology used in the Phantom 2 vision+ remote control system

UAV Remote Control System

This is the wireless communication device using the 5.8 GHz frequency band. The drone and the remote control system should already be paired when it leaves the factory.

UAV Remote Control Receiver 

The location of the 5.8 GHz receiver technology link button is under the UAV.

Range Extender UAV Technology

This is a wireless communication device which operates within the 2.4 GHz frequency. It is used to extend the range of communication between a smartphone and the drone in an open unobstructed area.  Transmission distance can reach up to 700 meters. Each range extender has a unique MAC address and network name (SSID).

Smartphone App Featuring Ground Station Function

Smartphone App from Google Play or the Apple Store. The app allows for full control of the drone. There is a specific feature called ground station function on the Phantom 2 Vision+ quadcopter.  This allows for flight missions by placing location waypoints and setting waypoint altitude and overall speed.  The UAV should the be able to execute the flight mission automatically.

High Performance Camera

The Phantom 2 Vision+ carries an extremely high quality camera and a removable 4GB micro SD card. It shoots full HD video at 1080p/30 frames per second and 720p/60 frames per second, giving you crystal clear video and the option for slow motion shots. Photos are shot at 14 megapixels.

Gimbals & Tilt Control

Tilt the camera while in flight, creating unique angles. It uses a 3 axial stabilized gimbal and has 2 working modes. Non-FPV mode and FPV mode.

Anti-Drop Kit

Helps to keep the stabilizer and camera connected to the unmanned aircraft.
Video Editing Software & Adobe DNG Raw And Lens Profile
Having an excellent quality video software is essential for post processing. Adobe DNG raw means that all the original image information is retained for later processing. An Adobe lens profile for barrel distortion removal is available for the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ camera.

Operating Systems In Drone Technology
Some unmanned aircraft use MS Windows operating systems.  However more and more UAV innovators are now using different versions of Linux.  The Linux Foundation recently launched the Dronecode project. The Dronecode Project is an open source, collaborative project that brings together existing and future open source unmanned aerial vehicle projects under a nonprofit structure governed by The Linux Foundation. The result will be a common, shared open source platform for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).
Drones in some ways are flying computers.  With an operating system, flight controllers, main boards with programmable code, they can also be hacked into.  Like a computer, you can also protect your drone from hackers.

Top Videos On Drone Technology 

Below I have 2 videos which explain more about drone technology.  The first video is by top UAV scientist Raffaello D’Andrea who gives us a terrific understanding of the software science behind UAV technology.  He discusses the science of algorithm, control theory and model based design.

The below video explains both the present and future of science and technology behind military unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Predator and the Reaper. Personally, I am much more interested and fascinated in the drone technology and it’s uses in everyday life to assist different businesses, professions and for the hobbyist.
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