1) How do drones fly?
To understand how a drone does fly first is to know what the main components of a drone are. A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle that is composed of:
a.Battery: The battery of a drone is one of its most important components. Usually, drone batteries are Lipo batteries with the following specifications:
- Their output power is fast
- They can store large amounts of power.
- They have a long life.
b. Motors: powered by the battery, drone motors provide power for the drone in order for it to be able to fly.
c. Transmitter: a drone transmitter is basically the device that the operator uses in order to be able to control the drone. Usually, these controllers are made out of sticks, buttons, and switches.
d. Flight Controller: the flight controller is the brain of the drone. It houses gyroscopes, accelerometers, and barometric pressure sensors. It also receives information from GPS, the compass sensor, and positioning sensors.
Drones use motors for propulsion and control, for a drone to climb (go up) is to increase the thrust of the motor so that there is an upward force that is greater than the weight. For the drone descend is to simply do the opposite, using a controller all of this is possible by increasing or decreasing the voltage of each motor.
2) How far can drones fly?
There are four major parameters and factors that affect the distance a drone can fly:
a. The battery’s lifetime: most drones are powered by LIPO batteries, usually this type of battery can last between 10 to 20 minutes per flight. However, in some cases, there are some batteries that can last for 23 or even 27 minutes. Some drones use these kinds of batteries such as DJI phantom 3 pro or the DJI inspire 2.
b. The speed of the drone: most regular drones fly at a perfectly respectable speed of 64 km per hour which is around 40 miles per hour; however, there are other drones that can easily surpass that speed such as the racer x drone, This drone can actually reach a top speed of 289 km/h which is around 179.6 mph which is considered to be the fastest drone ever.
c. The drone transmitter and the controller: the max range for the transmitter is theoretically unlimited. So, as long as the battery is charged and the drone is perfectly functional, the operator should be able to control the aerial vehicle without having a problem.
d. Regulations and restrictions: there are plenty of laws and restrictions regulating the use of drones. Here are some laws that affect the flight distance of a regular drone:
- A drone is not allowed to fly horizontally further than 152 meters.
- According to the FAA regulations (the federal aviation administration), the speed limit of the flying drone is around 160 Km/h.
In order to know how far a drone can fly it is important to use the following:
Distance = Speed x Time.
So, if a regular drone can fly at a speed of 64 Km/h (which is around 1.066 Km per minute) and the regular drone battery can last for 15 minutes, the distance that that drone can fly and travel is around 16 Km. now, of course, there are other drones that are faster and has bigger batteries that can last longer than 15 minutes. For example, the racer x drone can fly at a speed of 289 Km/h. This means it can fly further than a regular drone; however’ in reality’ this is not the case because according to FAA regulations, drones are not allowed to travel faster than 160Km/h so the maximum distance a drone can travel is 160 km/h x 27 minutes (which is the maximum battery life of a drone) which is around 72 Km (44.73 miles). In conclusion, the bigger the battery, and the faster the drone, the further distance the unmanned aerial vehicle can travel.
3) Challenges facing Drones
There are plenty of challenges that face drones and aerial vehicles in general such as:
- Criminal use: many gangs and cartels are using drones in order to transfer drugs and other illegal substances from one country to another.
- Privacy problems: private drone flying in the open space may cause harm because drones that are connected to a camera can easily spy on others.
- Air safety: in the year 2015 many pilots changed their course in order to avoid a collision with flying drones. It has been estimated that in 2015 this happened 28 times.
- Insurance-related issues: since drones and unmanned aircraft are relatively new, they are creating new questions regarding property damage and liability.
- Drones cannot fly in extreme weathers such as heavy rain on extreme wind thus making the use of drones even more limited.
- Drones cannot fly in certain areas prohibited by the government.
- During military operations, drones are not allowed to be used.
- Drones may be used for various different tasks and activities however their price is expensive which makes their use in some domains not ideal.
Even though there are many rules and regulations that limit the use of drones and even slow its development, it is safe to say that the advantages and the pros that drones are bringing to the table force governments and other organizations to update and make few changes in laws on speed limit or height limit for a flying drone. Hopefully, with these new changes and with the advancements in technology especially in batteries and flying speed, drones will be able to fly further and travel further distances way faster.