Drones past, present and future
Updated: Oct 17, 2020
It seems just a few years ago drones were simply associated with military. Model helicopters were becoming the must have toys. Despite their affordability they they were (and still are) very difficult to control as they were based on their real counterparts and very sensitive. My wife wasn't very impressed when I destroyed our Christmas decorations with my baby helicopter.
It was this hobby that inspired no other than Matt Williams, my drone instructor to follow a career that saw him become a military helicopter instructor and later, following a tragic accident, form uavhub the UK's leading drone training provider. Matt had started to experiment mounting small cameras to his model aircraft, which led to his first big breaks in the film industry. Naturally when consumer drones (UAV's) started to appear (mainly for hobby uses at the time), he made the transition using huge heavylift drones that were capable of flying cinema standard cameras. There was very little regulation in the early days and Matt used his skills to begin a training provider to complement his ever increasing drone assignments.
As drones were getting more accessible due to increased battery technology the CAA brought in tougher regulations and training requirements such as the PfCO which we hold in order that they could share the airspace safely with their larger manned family and in congested areas. (we basically have to operate as if we are a micro airline). These rules are set to change again with the implementation of the European EASA regulations (despite brexit) offering standard regulations across borders.
Drones have since transformed many industries with their safer and more cost effective solutions to many regular applications and their portability. Agriculture, Construction, emergency services, safety inspections are just a few of the long list of commercial use of drones today. Just watch TV & Film nowadays and you will see so many examples of amazing drone footage.
One thing we are seeing more of are an increase in unlicensed drone pilots flying "commercially" undercutting those of us who have embarked on the training to be safe and legal operators. There are also many youtube videos circulating of highly illegal flying especially in city centres, around other highly sensitive places. Try educating these types and you get shot down as the "drone police". This will no doubt lead to a major incident in the not so distant future whereby drones will once again become the focus of media as in the Gatwick story (was there really a drone there?) and these idiots will spoil it for everyone. Unfortunately the police and CAA haven't been very effective at dealing with these flights so far but we expect this to change.
Drones will become a regular sight in our skies as many industries realise their vast potential. Delivery drones are already becoming reality and will be the norm in years to come (even your pizza could fly to you). Covid 19 has already shown the great potential for delivery being an important link in the supply chain especially in remote locations and naturally the big boys such as Amazon Prime are already leading the way. Tesco has also just announced a new trial service. There has already been immense research how this could be achieved and many test flights have already taken place.
Forget the flying car that has been the talk of many generations and in sci-fi circles. We predict a future when the sky will be full of drone taxis that will be much safer than helicopters at low altitude and in congested areas. There are many companies such as Airbus already developing this concept. As in any new invention they will initially be out of most peoples budgets therefore available only to a niche market but will over time become more affordable and common .(as in the motorcar)
We feel drones will replace the traditional firework display with swarms of pre programmed drones, dancing in sequence with full on light displays. Further afield drones will also be customised to explore other planets with NASA looking to use types of UAV in planned missions into space.
A worrying but inevitable use of drones will revert full circle, back in the military. Whist some military drones are already larger than some small aircraft, on the other end of the scale drones are being developed so small they can easily be mistaken for flying insects yet be able to transmit surveillance feeds from a vast distance. They could also drop bombs or biological weapons, even broadcast messages to the enemy as well as detect them.
As quickly as drone technology is developing so is anti drone technology. Who knows where it will all end. Love them or hate them drones are here to stay!
Thankfully Pesky Seagull Aerial Photography and Video are a drone operator that aren't an enemy! Our professional team based in the west midlands are amongst the most friendly in the industry and offer a wide range of useful drone services from weddings to surveys, inspections, property photography to events and can supply stunning footage to promote your organisation on social media, websites, or corporate videos. Our chief pilot has been involved in the aviation industry for over 25 years, safety and customer service are our priorties.