VTOL Drones. Secret Sauce for Success of UAV Technology?

We know drones zip around in the sky. That means they take-off from the ground, right? Well, though rudimentary, Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) drones are critical to overall future of the industry itself.

We keep hearing a lot of talk about drone-use across use-cases, all around the world. We are looking at a total upheaval in how quickly and effectively we acquire, process and apply ground-information.

Picture this – It takes about 4-5 weeks to properly assess the soil, vegetative and (general) terrestrial conditions of just a few acres of land. This can be for, perhaps, building a factory, planning agricultural plantation, upstream evaluation of mining claim blocks, deploying solar panels or wind turbines. All these are high-impact functions for the company and the economy; hence, the evaluation and planning must be precise.

Around 30-35% of total time and resources in innovation and growth (through above-mentioned activities) is spent in evaluation (and more in maintenance). Drones can essentially cut this down by 1/3rd the amount, in time and capital invested, while increasing the quality, applicability and consistency of the results. So why drones? Well, why not?

You can read more about how drones help boost productivity here.

Let’s take it that drones have a clear and lasting business impact. Now, there’s something else we need to look at. The manoeuvrability and usability of these drones. Vertical take-offs and landings, to be more precise.

Why is VTOL critical for drones?

The instances and use-cases for maximum impact of drones require them to be deployed from remote and restricted areas. Whether they are conducting reconnaissance and surveillance over high altitudes across the border, infiltration-affected land, disaster-struck zones, etc., drones need to be operated with minimal equipment and within minimal space.

The first thing about VTOL drones, learned excellence for ideaForge, is that by nature they are easier to carry, set-up, deploy and commandeer. The operator can carry the ground control station (GCS) to any remote spot near an observing station. This can be on an offshore oil rig, construction site, or even street side-lines for traffic or crowd monitoring. The drones can take off vertically to a comfortable hovering or moving altitude from a single spot. This is the home point where the drone would return if it hasn’t been contrary directions.

VTOL is essential to cover the complete range of use-cases, from the arid deserts to the busy cities. The handling and launching processes are minimal and hence have a very simple learning curve. This is the first step to bring drones into the commercial purview with varied applications.

What are the benefits of Vertical Take-Offs and Landings?

Drones have evolved from multiple take-off styles, depending on their applications. There are horizontal take-off and landing (HTOL) (including fixed-wing UAVs), slingshot launches (within the line of HTOL), VTOL, hybrids, etc.

VTOL drones have clear benefits over their counterparts.

Space: As mentioned before, drones can be taken to remote and restricted areas for quick and easy deployment. They are easy-to-launch and easy-to-recover.

Control: These drones use their multiple rotors for lift and propulsion, giving them essential fine-tuning ability. They can move parallel to an industrial asset’s surface for finer inspections. They can incorporate sharp and dynamically-triggered turns for thorough surveying and mapping of an area. They can also control their speed, as-per-the-situation, to match the speed of any moving target (for a tag and trace activities in counter-insurgency or anti-terror operations).

Hovering: These drones can hover at a single point for a long time. This is essential for close inspections, analysis or imaging of targeted assets or area. The fitted in payload (for example high definition visual, infrared or thermal imaging cameras) can position itself in any desired point for deeper insights in each flight.

What’s in the future of commercial drones?

Commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have been in play for a long time, going through multiple technological and application evolution over the past decade. As it stands, commercial drones hold market opportunities worth an estimated $100 billion (between 2016-2020).

We have seen the advent of package deliveries using drones. State authorities are using drones to survey and map city lines for better planning and development. Road and railway authorities are using drones to inspect hundreds of kilometres of routes for maintenance issues. Drones are also utilized as first respondents in terms of a public crisis, often to identify people for rescue.

Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) drones will be the lynchpin for all further evolution of UAV technology. Any technology goes through a testing and acceptance phase. Drones have passed both with companies rushing for quick adoption. The next phase would be effective scaling. The only way to deploy maybe 100 drones from a delivery centre is VTOL. The only way to take drones to the most remote zones and expect them to adopt it without a delay is easy VTOL.

Through a human and administrative stand-point, VTOL is essential for realizing economies of scale for drones in any industry. Then, and only then, would these drones stand to be incorporated in a mass-manner through operations. Hence, the future of drones lies in mastering and perfecting vertical take-offs and landings.

ideaForge has had a consistent vision to create headway for the entire drone community, since its inception more than a decade ago, through to the future. They have been developing industry-leading high-endurance VTOL drones for all real-world applications. They have already built a following of benchmarks and laurels. They have been holding the beacon for others with continuing innovation in this space, solidifying their voice in the burgeoning future of drones.

If you want to know about drones with high real-world impact, look for VTOL and ideaForge.



October 2022

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