Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, have been popularized today. Initially, these flying robots served as military tools, but they have a wide range of applications today. From personal entertainment to intelligence collecting, filmmaking, and much more.
So, how do drones help the environment?
Drones help the environment in many ways. They monitor and map large areas efficiently, do environmental research, fly into dangerous and inaccessible places, and prevent wildlife from prohibited areas. These devices monitor weather patterns, humidity, and soil moisture levels and do scientific research.
These flying robots have come as a reliable solution to pressing humanitarian and environmental issues. This article comprehensively covers how drones are essential to our environment today. Let’s get started.
Table of contents
- What Exactly Is a Drone?
- How Do Drones Help the Environment?
- Bottom Line:
What Exactly Is a Drone?
A drone is an aerial vehicle or aircraft system that flies without human control. Therefore, it’s also called unmanned aerial vehicles or unmanned aircraft systems.
A drone is a “robot kind of device” operating under remote control or flying independently through flight plans controlled using software. UAVs have many features, but the characteristics of each drone depend on its function.
There are two major types of drones which include rotor and fixed-wing. The classification is according to what powers the drone.
Rotor drones are propelled and controlled by a fan(rotor). On the other hand, fixed-wing drones are driven and controlled by one rigid wing, which resembles and functions like an airplane. They only need a forward kick, thus being energy efficient.
Furthermore, drones have sensors that help them track and improve power usage, ensure the batteries’ safe charging, and detect any faulty area in the system.
These sensors include orientation and stabilization, chemical, laser or LiDar, time-of-flight, and distance sensors.
How Do Drones Help the Environment?
Drones help the environment in various dimensions. As this technology advances, its impact on our surroundings is tangible.
Below are the various ways in which unmanned aerial vehicles help the environment.
- Transportation and delivery
- Wildlife monitoring and conservation
- Monitoring and inspecting renewable energy
- Enhancing smart farming in the agricultural sector
- Rehabilitating forests
- Mapping and environmental monitoring
- Monitoring ocean health
- Land management
Keep reading as we look at how drones carry out each of the above tasks in our environment.
1. Transportation And Delivery-
The transportation and logistics sector is a great beneficiary of UAV technology. That is because drones can access areas not easily reachable such as warehouses, terminals, and shipping container ports.
In addition, these devices have various ways of communicating and sharing information.
Drones also have standard cameras that provide visibility for easy control and identification and inspect the goods being shipped.
The cameras automatically read the QR codes to identify shipping containers, machinery, and manufacturing equipment. Moreover, they have RFID scanners that locate and identify items invisible from the ground.
Drone transportation gets deliveries done quickly and efficiently. However, these gadgets have a small carrying capacity.
Even so, this mode of carriage has a positive impact on the environment. Unlike air, rail, road, and water transportation means, drones use batteries and thus, no harmful gas emissions to the surrounding.
The other impact of drone transportation and delivery is minimizing traffic congestion on our highways. There’ll be fewer trucks on the road, carrying heavy loads only.
The major downside of this mode of transportation is that it only carries fewer bulky items. However, as the technology evolves, the device carriage capacity and the distance it covers will also increase.
As a result, there’ll be a significant drop in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, especially if the drone’s batteries are charged with green energy. Consequently, the rapidly changing climate will slow down.
2. Wildlife Monitoring And Conservation-
In wildlife management, drones help count, study, and protect animals. They’re super accurate, making them ideal for counting animals that stay in groups with less impact on the area.
Furthermore, counting animals from a distance may be tedious, and some animals may not tolerate human presence. Hence, using drones in such a case would be more appropriate.
Moreover, drones have an aerial bird’s eye view allowing a clear view of what wouldn’t be visible from the ground. The counting method is also suitable for harsh climatic conditions, making them inaccessible.
Drones also serve as effective anti-poaching devices in areas with excessive ground cover.
As animal plunder continues to be a worldwide challenge due to the surrounding trade, drones have come to the rescue of endangered species.
Elephants, rhinos, and primates, among other animals, are on the verge of extinction as poachers are interested in their parts. For that reason, the wildlife sector has embraced drones to conduct surveillance on poachers.
Drone technology plays a major role in tracking dangerous animals. Direct contact with such animals might be life-threatening. Furthermore, in the case of natural disaster occurrences, drones can provide the necessary aid.
In a nutshell, UAVs’ impact on wildlife and its environs is evident as it provides maximum safety.
3. Monitoring And Inspecting Of Renewable Energy–
The energy industry is another area where unmanned aerial vehicles are excelling. This sector deals with valuable assets that require regular checkups for degradation and damage.
Drones monitor solar panels, oil pipelines, wind turbines, and high-voltage power lines.
They have significant applications that include turbine blades cleaning, solar and wind farms inspection, turbine blade de-icing, among others. These gadgets have advanced cameras to take photos and videos on the farms.
The flying robots can also map and create 3D pictures that are helpful to engineers and operators. They can identify a damaged part clearly without stopping the system’s operations.
Inspection of these assets can pose a danger to those doing the check-up. Hence, drones technology is a big plus to the energy industry as it assures safety and saves time.
Oil and gas companies have also not been left behind. Drones remotely monitor equipment, tankers, trucks, infrastructure, and more.
They provide a viewing angle of 360° allowing on-site activities monitoring and construction-in-progress observation from far.
4. Enhancing Smart Farming In The Agricultural Sector-
Drones have got many purposes to serve in the agriculture industry. From improving field management to effective dispersion of herbicides and fertilizers and precision agriculture, the drone touch is visible.
As a result, there is a reduction in the cost of production, higher crop quality, and increased overall output.
Using UAVs to spray herbicides and fertilizers save time, labor, and the method is efficient. Drones can spray large pieces of farms evenly and within a short time.
That ensures that your crops get the appropriate amount of weed control and fertilizer, leading to higher yields. It also prevents the farmer from harm by the toxic spraying solution.
In precision agriculture, farmers use drones to control the challenges of weather, diseases, and pests to maximize their production.
You need data to execute the tasks, and drones are your immediate remedy; they’re co-effective and quick. The information is essential in assessing crop health, determining hydration levels, detecting infestations, and planning crop cycles.
Drones for security for large farms are excellent. They can reach each corner of the farm and give sufficient information at all times. So, you don’t have to move around your land or miss out on something happening in any part.
Hence, drones have made it all easy in the agricultural sector!
5. Rehabilitating Forests-
Reforestation is time-consuming, costly, and requires intensive labor when relying on human labor.
Drones for reforestation can map and identify areas that need tree replanting and carry out the planting faster and more efficiently.
What’s more, they can reach areas not easily accessible by human labor.
First, drones map the area to give a layout for planning and implementation to start. Second, drones monitor the growth of new trees. And third, they map and drop seeds where they didn’t germinate.
Unlike the natural reforestation method where animals drop the seeds through the fecal matter, drone reforestation technology is more advanced. It carries seeds in unique vessels in natural pesticides, fertilizer, and soil.
6. Mapping And Environmental Monitoring-
Mapping and monitoring is one task that drones do exceptionally well. They can collect data from vast areas of coastline, enabling experts to develop high-end maps through photogrammetric image processing software.
The various mapping and monitoring include:
- Poaching and illegal activity monitoring
- Change monitoring over time
- Riverbank and plant conservation
- Coastal management monitoring
- River and flood assessment
- Animal and habitat management
- Terrain and hydrology modeling
- Forestry management and monitoring
Drones have cameras, humidity and pressure sensors, thermometers, wind gauges, and other apparatus to gather essential environmental data efficiently. The good thing is that they can penetrate even in life-threatening locations.
7. Monitoring Ocean Health-
Drone marine surveillance isn’t only effective and reliable but also well-defined, accurate, and cost-effective.
This technology enhances your safety because you don’t have to go underwater. It also allows you to reach inaccessible places during your research.
Other benefits of using drones for monitoring ocean health include:
- Enhancing easy repair or maintenance of the ship and improving its safety. A drone can check, control, and manage the ship’s condition by quickly reporting detailed analytical data and a sharper image of the damaged area. It also detects all potential harm-causing objects around and the appropriate operation options. That ensures the safety of the cargo or passengers therein.
- Reduced cost of doing research. In monitoring and inspecting marine life, drones can survey, map, and take images more cost-effectively than human labor. They have modern techniques that give more accurate results within a very short period, and in turn, there’s a lower cost of operation.
- Improved security. The marine environment has unsuitable and harsh conditions and structures. You can eliminate the risk by applying drone technology. Furthermore,it senses any precarious ship or hazardous and pollutant factors that can harm the marine line. Drones provide high-end imagery and in-depth research that ensure safety by exposing dangerous situations and improper activities.
8. Land Management-
Some developing lands are usually unsafe, uneven, bushy, or inaccessible areas. As such, you may have to clear and drain as part of developing it.
The grounds can be life-threatening to human labor, but that doesn’t mean they remain unattended.
Luckily, drones for land development can monitor the task effectively throughout the improvement journey. You can use a drone to collect any data without visiting the site physically.
The device can also identify faulty areas by creating 3D maps and recording GPS coordinates to track the problem. That allows you to attend to the matter before it’s too late.
The drone’s aerial view provides easier visualization. Therefore, it helps you take clear and precise pictures of your finished work.
Drone Photography and high-resolution imaging are ideal for showing details to your potential investors and buyers. The details go beyond your land development to include the neighborhood, nearby amenities, and the area’s attraction sites.
Does Drone Tree Planting Work?
Yes, drone tree planting works. One drone can plant 1,000 seed pods in 10 minutes and up to 40,000 daily. And one pilot can fly about five drones at a time.
They’re more efficient, precise, and faster than human labor. Furthermore, they’re ideal for inaccessible areas.
What Types of Drones Are Used for Agriculture?
Fixed-wing and multi-rotor are two main types of drones used for agriculture. Fixed-wing agricultural drones are faster, have a more durable battery life, and are more expensive.
You can use them for large farms or for professional use. The multi-rotor UAVs for agriculture, on the other hand, are pocket-friendly and easier to control.
Do Drones Scare Wildlife?
Yes, drones do scare wildlife. When you fly drones near animals, you’ll notice a change of behavior while their heartbeat may increase.
That is a sign of stress resulting from the device’s unfamiliar sound and the physical appearance of the “strange intruder.” However, the continuous use of UAVs helps the animals to adapt.
Do All Drones Have Sensors?
No, all drones don’t have sensors. Nonetheless, most UAVs have an obstacles avoidance system. This technology includes GPS, stereo vision, infrared, and ultrasonic sensors.
These sensors enable drones to detect barriers in their flight path, preventing potential damage. Sensors are much helpful during indoor flights where there are more obstacles.
How Do Drones Stay Level?
Drones stay level by making adjustments to their position while in the air. The gyroscope measures the drone’s rotation rate, enabling it to maintain balance.
The gyroscope has a mounted wheel that revolves on an axis moving vertically, backward, or forward. That allows the drone to be stable or maintain the intended direction.
Drone technology has dramatically impacted our environment today. It’s come with the immeasurable potential to reverse the massive destruction that has been made in the surrounding.
Drones have made it easy from transportation to wildlife, renewable energy, agriculture, forestry industries, and more. They perform tasks more efficiently, faster, and in a friendlier way than human labor.
If you do it right, you can save our environment from pollution and waste by reducing the rate at which it’s getting damaged by human activities.
Furthermore, since drones can reach inaccessible areas, they can help keep such places in good shape. Let’s embrace the new technology and put our environment in order!