Drone Technology

Course CodeBIT207
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn about Drones

  • Their components and how they work
  • Legalities, risks
  • Applications in commerce, exploration, horticulture, agriculture and more

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Drone Technology
    • What is a Drone?
    • History of Drones
    • Types of Drones
    • Multi rotor, Single rotor, Fixed wing drones
    • Fixed wing hybrid, airship and other drone types
    • Connectivity - radio frequency, wi-fi, LTE
    • Purpose of Drones
    • Remote sensing, aerial surveillance, video applications
    • Other applications - disaster relief, construction, geo survey, recreation, military, aquatic and space applications.
  2. Drone Features and Operation
    • Main Features of Drones
    • Camera and media storage
    • Flight time and speed
    • Hover accuracy
    • Components - battery, gyroscope, accelerometer, altimeter, sensors, antenna
    • Controllers - flight controller, electronic speed controller, gps
    • Camera
    • Payload
    • How to build a Drone in 6 steps
    • Operation of Drones - vertical motion, rotating
  3. Benefits, Risks and Legalities
    • Ethical Concerns - individual rights, data protection, accountability of autonomous
    • Legal Considerations
    • Safety
    • Air space
    • Environmental law
    • Spying
    • Stalking
    • Data collection
    • Data breach
    • Smuggling
    • Drones as weapons
    • Cyberweapons
  4. Environmental Applications
    • Land Management
    • Reforestation
    • Sustainable Agriculture and Crop Monitoring
    • Monitoring & Inspection of Renewable Energy Sources, Pipelines, and Oil Rigs
    • Wildlife Conservation - detecting poachers, collecting samples
    • Transport & Delivery
  5. Exploratory and Discovery Applications
    • Drones in Exploration
    • Oceanic Exploration
    • Space Exploration
    • Drones in Mining Applications
    • Sampling and data collection
    • Volumetrics and LiDar
    • Stability and safety monitoring
    • Security monitoring
  6. Retail and Service Applications
    • Drones in Real Estate
    • Photography
    • Drones for Online Services
    • Drones in Security
    • Drones in Behavioural Economics
  7. Agronomic and Horticulture Applications
    • Horticulture
    • Agronomy
    • Viticulture
    • Livestock
    • Precision Agriculture
    • Applications
    • Marketing and sales
    • Surveying
    • Crop monitoring
    • Pesticide and fertiliser application
    • Crop inventory and insurance
    • Monitoring livestock
    • Asset management
    • Challenges of using drones in Agriculture: Types of aircraft, Sensors, BIG data, Flight regulations, Liability
  8. Construction and Industry Applications
    • Construction Drones
    • Mapping and Land Surveys
    • Data and Scheduling
    • Track and Inventory Equipment
    • Progress Reports and Collaboration
    • Safety and Inspections
    • Security and Surveillance
    • Limitations of Drones in Construction
  9. Telecommunication Applications
    • Drone Technology in Telecommunications
    • Inspections and Asset Management
    • Line of sight testing
    • Temporary networks and Airborne relays
    • Network measurement
    • Internet of things connectivity
    • Data provision and processing
    • Flight paths and corridors
    • Unmanned aircraft systems
    • Tethered systems

Why Drones? What can they be used for?

There are many varied uses for drones and the capacities and capabilities they provide are being expanded all the time. Typically, they are used to reduce the risk involved in hazardous activities, to access areas or structures that are otherwise hard to reach or to enhance the possibilities of creative endeavours. Some of the key applications are as follows.

Remote Sensing
As the payload on a drone is customizable there are many remote sensing uses available to users which can be tailored to their industry and requirements. For instance, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors can be used to scan large areas and to create topographical maps which are useful in agriculture and archaeology. Heat sensors can be deployed to assist in surveillance and emergency response situations. Biological sensors can be deployed to measure things like air quality.

Aerial Surveillance
Aerial surveillance uses can include using drones as part of a security system, investigating, or assessing hard to reach structures such as power lines or remote buildings, tracking and mapping environmental events like wildfires or keeping track of livestock on large farms and ranches.

Aerial Videography
The use of drones in filmmaking has become more common as the other a versatile and economical option for producing dramatic and interesting visuals. They can be used to provide a stable, adjustable, and fast-moving platform for a camera and have the benefit of being able to film at a range of heights and in quite close quarters. This means many quite expensive parts of a film production such as dolly rigs up to helicopter rental can be replaced relatively simply.

Disaster Relief
Drones can be used in several contexts to support disaster relief efforts. Firstly, they can access hard to reach and confined areas and as such can be used to provide data to help assess the level of damage to areas and structures. Secondly, they can be loaded with a variety of sensors to assist in locating trapped or displaced persons, such as heat sensors to detect body heat in a collapsed structure. Finally, they can be used to deliver supplies and aid to disaster zones which have been cut off from other supply chains.

Depending on the camera and sensor types deployed drones can be used for surveying land and structures and the data gathered can assist in site development, modelling and even producing marketing materials.

Geological Exploration
Drones can be used to survey large and inaccessible areas to help in identify routes for pipelines or new roads into areas to be developed. If loaded with the appropriate kinds of sensors, such as a powerful magnetometer, they can also be used to determine the likelihood of mineral deposits over the survey area.

Recreational use of drones is typically for the fun of flying it or to take interesting photos/videos. Some enthusiasts will also be inspired by the challenge of designing and building their own drone. There are typically rules in operating drones for recreational use produced by local authorities. These will set down aspects such as allowable flight range, proximity to people/buildings and acceptable use of the camera.

Military Applications
The most well-known use of drones in the military is in the large surveillance or weapons platform devices used in conflict zones. The use of small and micro drones is an expanding area though. These range from single rotor devices which can be launched from a person's palm to fixed wing devices which can be launched from a slingshot, and they are typically used for surveillance by operators in conflict or disaster relief contexts.

Aquatic Applications
UAVs are used at sea now in areas of exploration, to collect ocean surface and atmospheric data, and inspection, checking things like oil rigs to reduce the need for people to go into hazardous conditions.
ROV’s are used in a range of applications from exploring extreme depths to investigating cable sites or pipelines to searching likely archaeological excavation areas.

Space Applications
Space applications include the UGV Mars Rover, and a recently deployed helicopter drone sent as part of the same mission. The drone was small and contained no payload as its purpose was to investigate the feasibility of using the technology on other planets. Now that there is proof of concept for their use further missions with more substantial drones are planned.
Each country will have its own specific restriction pertaining to drone and acceptable uses of them. It is always advisable to check with local authorities for any specific requirements prior to using a drone for any application.

Moving beyond the UAV idea, or even simply “aerial” as a drone requirement. Focussing on the idea of “unmanned”. Important in exploration, but also in terms of healthcare applications and nanotech growth.


Who is this course for?

Anyone who might work with drones – farmers, horticulturists, planners, builders, film makers, marketing professionals, surveyors, environmental managers, land and resource managers, researchers, and others.

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