There are many users which can make use of a low cost, high payload UAV.
With a ENG-style camera and video downlink, these users would be interested:
Aerial views of properties can add desirability to the realty listing.
Large ranches and other extensive properties could be surveyed from the
- Sporting events
Most schools or small town events can not afford to operate a Bell
JetRanger at $650 per hour. But a UAV that costs less than $10 per
hour to fly and could be used for every game.
A special case of sporting events. I talked with a sailboat racing
photographer who frequently chartered Jet Rangers for covering
boat shows near land. He wanted to be able to get the same aerial
photographs for off-shore races, but was limited to climbing the mast
for those "airborne" shots. In this case, launching from the fan tail
of a sailboat and returning would be key features (zero relative speed
- Off-road events
Four wheel drive events typically turn into long lines of trucks
spread out over kilometers of courses. Organizers can use the UAV
to track the entire traffic jam easily and safely. Magazine
sponsers would also benefit by being able to produce aerial
pictures to show the terrain and trucks. More interesting
photographs translates into more sales.
- Radio / TV stations
Radio or TV stations could have UAV's spread out across
the city at common traffic hot-spots. When compared to the cost of
a single JetRanger used for ENG work, the station could operate
between forty or fifty UAV's.
Tracking large herds over expansive ranches requires aerial views.
Many ranchers operate R-22 helicopters or Aviat Husky style aircraft
to be able to survey their herds and provide direction to cowboys
on the ground. The operational costs of full size aircraft are
prohibitive, but a UAV can be acquired and flown for a fraction of
- Pipeline patrol and powerline patrol
Pipelines and powerlines typically use slow speed capable
aircraft such as Maule's, Husky's, and SuperCubs. These are
in the same price range as the Robinson R-22, but can do little
more than fly above the lines and report any problems. The UAV
would be able to provide very similar capabilities for a much
lower cost. Combined with a GPS routing, several UAV's could
perform automated patrols and the video downlinks reviewed at
high speed by fewer operators.
With a longer runtime, search and rescue operations could scour
more area at much lower levels than manned helicopters could be
Additionally, a chemical product hopper could be fitted instead of
the ENG camera. Combined with a differential GPS signal and map of
a field, the UAV could precisely deliver crop dusting to the crop.
CMU aerial robotics team
has put together an
excellent list of users,
with images for each of the tasks.
|Operational cost (per hour, no operator)
|Time aloft (hours)
|Payload (kg, full fuel)