Why Should We Care About Drone Power? Part II of Powering Your Drone
What's the Big Deal with Drone Power?
Why are longer flight times, flying farther, and higher payload capacity such a major topic for commercial drone manufacturers? Is it just a case of making a flashier drone—like advertising your car can reach 200 miles per hour when you know most drivers will only ever be allowed to go up to 80 mph? Or is there something more to it?
Let’s spare the suspense: there is a lot more to it, and how we address these issues will determine how and what industries will move forward with drone technology.
The more a drone can take on the responsibilities of expensive, high-carbon-emitting aircraft and vehicles, like helicopters, the broader their utility will be for commercial markets. Larger transportation devices already have a known use case for these commercial markets so making the switch to a lighter, cheaper, carbon-friendly alternative is an attractive and compelling use case for many verticals like energy and utilities, delivery, agriculture and forestry, and more.
This is not a new revelation. The case for drones being a replacement for heavier aircraft and vehicles has been made for many years now, so why haven’t we just made the switch to drones? We are quick to say regulations are the major roadblock, and to some extent they are, but other things like public acceptance and demand, and power continue to be challenges as well. Mainstream commercial UAVs have limitations when it comes to flight times and distance, operating in challenging weather conditions, or carrying high payloads. The bulk of commercial UAVs are really used for lightweight, short duration data collection where operations stay within visual line of sight and can easily be done within Part 107. But there is a growing demand and interest in applications outside of this narrow set of parameters that require longer flight times, heavier payloads, and operations in more extreme conditions. This is a largely under tapped market for drones.