What is a drone and how drones work is answered here in this easy-to-understand article? UAV drone technology is constantly evolving as new innovations and large investments are bringing more advanced drones to the market every few months.
Below, we discuss UAV technology on the most popular drones on the market, with all the latest drone technology. Most UAV drones will include very similar systems.
Also the market currently contains the latest list of top drones with cameras.
Unmanned aerial vehicle technology covers everything from the aerodynamics of drones to the manufacture of physical UAVs to materials, circuit boards, chipsets and software that are the brains of the drone.
One of the most popular drones in the market is the DJI Phantom 3. This drone was very popular with professional aerial cinemas. It is a bit old now, but it uses very advanced technology that is present in the very latest drones.
It is ideal for explaining UAV drone technology as it has everything in one package. It includes UAVs, gimbals and cameras and uses the top drone technology in the market today.
In the last few months, more new and highly advanced drones like DJI Mavic Mini, Mavic 2, Mavic Air 2, Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, Unac Typhoon H3 and Autel Evo 2 have come on the market.
I have included these latest drone technology advances in the article below. Therefore this article is up to date with all links.
How the drone works
A common unmanned aircraft is made of lightweight composite materials to reduce weight and increase mobility. This composite material strength allows military drones to cruise at extreme altitudes.
UAV drones are equipped with various technological technologies such as infrared cameras, GPS and lasers (consumer, commercial and military UAVs). The drone is controlled by a remote ground control system (GSC) and is also known as a ground cockpit.
An unmanned aerial vehicle system consists of two parts, the drone and the control system.
The nose of an unmanned aerial vehicle is where all sensors and navigational systems are present. The rest of the body is replete with drone technology systems because there is no place for humans to adjust.
The engineering materials used to manufacture drones are highly complex composites designed to absorb vibrations, which reduce the sound produced. These materials are very light weight.
What is a drone and UAV technology
We have a lot of information about the latest drone technologies from the latest drones on the market.
There are lots of links, where you can read in depth the various components of drone technology. For example, here is an awesome drone component overview article. It gives information about individual components seen in most drones.
Types and sizes of drones
UAV drones come in a variety of sizes, most of which are mostly used for military purposes such as Predator drones. The next in size is the unmanned aircraft, which have fixed wings and require short runways. They are commonly used to cover large tracts of land, work in areas such as geographic surveys or tackle wildlife poaching.
What is next in size for the drone is known as the VTOL drone. These are usually quadcopters but not all. VTOL drones can fly, fly, hover and stand up. VTOL correctly means “vertical take-off and landing”.
Some of the latest smaller UAV drones like the DJI Mavic Air 2 take VTOL to the next level and can be launched from the palm of your hand.
Radar positioning and homecoming
The latest drones feature dual Global Navigational Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as GPS and GLONASS.
Drones may fly in both GNSS and non-satellite modes. For example, DJI drones can fly in P-mode (GPS and GLONASS) or ATTI mode, which will not use GPS.
Highly precise drone navigation is very important while flying, especially in drone applications such as creating 3D maps, surveying landscapes and SAR (search and rescue) missions.
When the quadcopter is first switched on, it searches for and detects GNSS satellites. High-end GNSS systems use satellite constellation technology. Basically, a satellite constellation is a group of satellites working together that give coordinated coverage and are synchronized, so that they overlap well in coverage. A pass or coverage is the period in which a satellite appears above the local horizon.
It is indicated that enough drone GNSS satellites have been detected and the drone is ready to fly.
Record the home point for the ‘Return to Home’ security feature.
Most of the new latest UAVs have 3 types of return to home drone technology as follows;
- The pilot began returning home by pressing a button in a remote controller or an app.
- A low battery level, where the UAV will automatically fly back to the home point.
- Loss of contact between the UAV and the remote controller, with the UAV flying back to its home point automatically.
- The latest Mavic Air 2 technology can feel interruptions during automatic return to home.
Barrier Detection and Collision Avoidance Technology
The latest highly-tech drones are now equipped with collision avoidance systems. These use obstacle detection sensors to scan the surroundings, while software algorithms and SLAM techniques generate images into 3D maps, allowing the drone to sense and escape. These systems fuse one or more of the following sensors to sense and escape;
- Vision sensor.
- Flight Time (TOF).
- Monocular Vision.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom have obstacles on all 6 sides. Mavic 2 uses both vision and infrared sensors known as omni-directional constraint sensing.
The DJI Mavic 2 barrier sensing system is top drone technology. Mavic will feel 2 objects, then fly around the obstacles in front. Or hover if it is not possible to fly around the obstacle.
This technology is known as APAS (Advanced Pilot Assistance System) on DJI Mavic 2 and Mavic air drones.
In December 2019, the Skidio 2 drone was released. It also prevents obstruction on every side.
SkyDayo 2 autonomy technology visualizes and calculates what is happening around the drone. It can then intelligently predict what will happen next and make accurate decisions many times.
The SkyDayo 2 quadcopter uses 6 x 4k cameras to create a 3D map of its surroundings, which will include trees, people, animals, cars, buildings and more.
Gyroscope stabilization, IMU and flight controllers
Gyro stabilization technology gives the UAV drone its smooth flight capabilities.
The gyroscope works almost immediately against the forces rising against the drone, flying it or hovering very easily. The gyroscope provides the necessary navigational information to the central flight controller.
The inertial measuring unit (IMU) works by finding the current rate of acceleration using one or more accelerometers. The IMU detects changes in rotational characteristics such as pitch, roll and yaw using one or more gyroscopes. Some IMUs include a magnetometer to assist with calibration against orientation drift.
The gyroscope is a component of the IMU and the IMU is an essential component of the drone flight controller. The flight by controller is the central brain of the drone.
Here is a great article, which covers gyro stabilization and IMU technology in drones.
UAV Drone Propulsion Technology
Propulsion systems (motors, electronic speed controllers and propellers) are drone technology that transports UAVs into the air and flies in any direction or hover. On a quadcopter, the motors and propellers operate in clockwise (CW propellers) with 2 motors / propellers and 2 motors with rotating counter clockwise (CCW propellers).
They receive data from flight controllers and electronic speed controllers (ESC) to fly or hover in the direction of a drone motor.
The top UAV drone motors and propulsion systems are highly advanced and include the following components;
- Motor stator
- Motor bell (rotor)
- cooling system
- Electronic speed controller
- ESC Updater
Electronic speed controllers provide information about speed, braking to drone motors and also provide monitoring and fault tolerance on drone motors.
For more information, read this article on how the propulsion system works, including very informative videos.
Realtime Telemetry Flight Parameters
Almost all drones have a ground station controller (GSC) or a smartphone app, which allows you to fly a drone and keep track of current flight telemetry. Telemetry data shown on the remote controller includes multiple UAV range, height, speed, GNSS strength, remaining battery power, and warning.
Many UAV drones use ground controllers FPV (First Person View), which transmit video from a drone to a controller or mobile device.
When the compass is calibrated, it looks for the location of GPS satellites.
Internal compass and Felsphe function
The UAV allows the drone and remote control system to know its flight location. A home point can be set and this is where the drone will return, if the drone and the remote control system stop connecting.
FPV live video transmission drone technology
FPV stands for “First Person View”. A video camera is mounted on the unmanned aerial vehicle and this camera transmits live video to the pilot on the ground. The ground pilot is flying the aircraft as if they were on board the aircraft instead of seeing the aircraft from the actual ground position of the pilot.
The FPV allows unmanned aircraft to fly much farther and farther than seeing the aircraft from the ground. The first-person view allows for more precise flight, especially around obstacles.
FPV allows unmanned aerial vehicles to fly very easily indoors, or through forests and buildings.
The exceptionally rapid growth and development of the drone racing league would not be possible without the FPV live video transmission technology.
This FPV technology uses radio signals to broadcast and receive live video.
The drone has a multi-band wireless FPV transmitter built with an antenna. Depending on the drone, the receiver of the live video signal may be either a remote control unit, computer, tablet, or smartphone device.
This is related to the signal strength between ground controls on the live video feed drone.
The DJI Mavic 2 has a 5 mile (8 km) FPV live video range with 1080p quality video transmission.
Other, slightly older UAV drones such as DJI Mavic and Phantom 4 Pro can broadcast live video up to 4.3 miles (7 km).
Drones such as DJI Mavic use integrated controllers and intelligent algorithms to establish a new standard for wireless high definition image transmission by reducing latency and increasing maximum range and reliability.
Maximizing the limits of live video and transmission is attractive drone technology. Here is a tremendous article titled “FPV Live Video Transmission”.
FPV 4G / LTE Network
In 2016, a new live video, which broadcasts over 4G / LTE networks, offers an unlimited range and low latency video was announced. This drone technology was released on the Sky drone FPv2 and includes a camera module, a data module and 4G / LTT modem.
Firmware and Flight Assistant Port
The flight control system communicates with a PC assistant via a micro-USB cable. This allows the UAV to upgrade its configuration and drone firmware.
Drone manufacturers released firmware upgrades to fix bugs and add new features to the aircraft if it is used to fly the drone.
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- Drone Battery – 3.7V 500mAh Battery (not included), Remote – 4 AA Battery (not included)
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