What is an amateur UAV?
An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is an aircraft that has the capability of autonomous flight, without a pilot in control. Amateur UAVs are non-military and non-commercial. They typically fly under “recreational” exceptions to FAA regulations on UAVs, so long as the pilots/programmers keep them within tight limits on altitude and distance. Usually the UAV is controlled manually by Radio Control (RC) at take-off and landing, and switched into GPS-guided autonomous mode only at a safe altitude. See here
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) uses the international community term “UA’ or “UAS’ for UA System; It also is synonymous with previously used terms to identify unmanned aircraft such as ROA (remotely operated aircraft), RPV (remotely piloted vehicle), and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle).
Uses for Drones
While drones have long been associated with the military, drones have been increasingly used for purposes other than warfare or surveillance.
The National Geographic in an article lists 5 civilian areas in which drones are being used effectively:
- Hurricane Hunting – Drones can charge into the heart of a storm without risking human life and limb. NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Northrop Grumman teamed up on a three-year, $30-million experiment to use long-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to spy on storms as they evolve.
- 3-D Mapping – Small, lightweight drones may look like simple model airplanes, but they can survey landscapes with thousands of digital images that can be stitched together into 3-D maps.
- Protecting Wildlife – The U.S. government already uses drones to protect its lands and the species that inhabit them. “The Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management, and the United States Geological Service use UAVs, and by and large they use military surplus stuff, like the small Ravens, to monitor wildlife populations or map roads and wetlands for land management purposes,” according to Ben Gielow, a spokesperson for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
- Down on the Farm – Gielow also told National Geographic that “Agriculture, far and away, is going to be the dominant market for UAV operations”
- Search and Rescue – An injured victim of an automobile accident in Saskatchewan, Canada, in May 2013 may have been the first person to have his life saved by a search-and-rescue drone.
- Read more here
Beyond Warfare: 12 Non-Lethal Uses For Drones
This interesting piece from PC Mag shares some very interesting uses for drones, whether for real or still in the planning stage, among which are as follows:
- Photographing music festivals
- Scaring geese
- Pizza delivery
- Whale watching
- Shooting commercials Read the rest of the article here
With the rapidly growing interest in drones, as drone technology has gotten cheaper and more innovative, communities of hobbyists who are into the -do-it-yourself drones for sheer creative fun, as well as hobbyists who’d rather buy their ready-to-fly personal unmanned aircrafts keep spreading as well. There is much excitement around this growing hobby, and much anticipation, too, among the business-minded seeing the great potential for commercial use for drones. As of the present, FAA has not given any formal approval for drones to be used commercially.
However, personal drones, or unmanned aircrafts for recreation, do not have to secure approval from the FAA to fly them, but aircraft flight should be kept below 400 feet above ground level (AGL), should be flown a sufficient distance from populated areas and full scale aircraft, and are not for business purposes. See here
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