5 Reasons Our Cities Are Not Full of Autonomously Flying Drones (Yet!)by@artialdrones
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5 Reasons Our Cities Are Not Full of Autonomously Flying Drones (Yet!)

by Valeria MaksimovichAugust 20th, 2022
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With every passing day, autonomous drone technology is becoming more and more advanced. This article explores why our cities are not yet full of autonomous drones and highlights some of the challenges that still need to be addressed. Give it a look, maybe you have some ideas how to speed up the process?

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We are slowly but surely moving towards a world where autonomous drones will play a major role. In this article, we will show you why autonomous drone technology is ready for prime time and outline barriers that still need to be addressed.

REASON #1: Regulation is only looming on the horizon

The regulatory environment for autonomous drones is not finished yet, but it is on a good track. Guidelines from various government agencies are being proposed by the FAA — Federal Aviation Administration in the US and EASA— European Union Aviation Safety Agency and National Aviation Authority (NAAs) for each EU country. These are the bodies that make regulations and issue flying permits in the field of civil aviation.

Let’s look at the example of Europe

The latest unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) regulation in the EU is Regulations 2019/947 which set out the framework for the safe operation of civil drones, yet, it slightly mentions autonomous operation giving it a large degree of freedom. This regulation looks like a good opportunity for autonomous UAV operations.

Flawless Object Following in Urban Area. Source: ARTIAL MVP video

REASON #2: We need to wait to see who and how will regulate Urban Airspace

In the EU cities, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) will be catered for by the U-space Regulations, which will be ready in 2023. This will be a set of services that will be deployed in airspace where heavier traffic is expected, such as in urban areas. The U-space establishes and harmonizes the requirements for manned and unmanned aircraft to operate safely in the U-space airspace, prevent collisions between aircraft, and mitigate air and ground risks.

For now, it looks like a favorable future of autonomous drone flights is on the horizon. So, from now on, autonomous drone flight certifications will be unprecedented in most countries.

Indoors Inspection using latest computer vision technologies by Autonomous Drones. Source: ARTIAL MVP video

REASON #3: Lack of general public awareness

The recent study on Risk Perception and Public Acceptance of Autonomous Drones from Texas A&M University showed that the general public hears about drones mainly from mainstream media and movies. The survey showed that the general public was not aware of the majority of the many current and future drone applications. Moreover, the results showed that commercial and hobby uses are much less supported than public safety drones and drones for scientific research.

Autonomous Drones for power lines inspections in urban environments. Source: ARTIAL MVP video

REASON #4: Lack of technology trust from the industry experts

Another study from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia was conducted among drone users (airports representatives, drone pilots, manufacturers, police departments, etc.), and showed that the perception of drone use cases gets worse (or less optimistic) as the performed environmental task gets more complex (bridge and highway inspections, police surveillance).

Respondents believe that the creation of the U-space will create a safe environment for autonomous drone flights.

Complex Environment Inspection by Autonomous Drones. Source: ARTIAL MVP video

REASON #5: There was no technology to make it work (until recently)

The technology needed to make drones fly without human supervision is highly complex and needs large computational power and communication technology to work properly:

  • Artificial Intelligence,
  • Computer Vision,
  • GPS-independent navigation,
  • Communication technologies.

It‘s a challenge to integrate all this innovative technology into one cohesive solution, as most of drone companies struggle to bring self-awareness to drones. There are some teams, however, that have combined it all and developed the Autonomy Engine — intelligent software for autonomous flights.

We will soon see autonomous drones on missions, from inspecting the energy grid critical infrastructure for damages, identifying new threats or vulnerabilities to prevent a major power outage or another system failure, to urban traffic monitoring and mapping gathering all the valuable data to spot the most frequent traffic accidents spots. This data will be processed in real-time to create preventive measures and make corrective adjustments to reduce the chances of accidents.

Solar Panel Inspection by Autonomous Drones. Source: ARTIAL MVP video

  • Power Lines Inspection by Autonomous Drones. Source: ARTIAL MVP video

What’s next?

There are many exciting developments happening with drones that point to a future where they fly autonomously and play an important role in urban and rural environments.

Cities around the world are testing out various ways of using drones for surveillance purposes, air traffic management, key infrastructure, agricultural monitoring, and more. And as we move closer toward the implementation of autonomous drone technologies, soon it will become increasingly integrated into our lives!

Thanks for staying with me :)

I’m sure there are more barriers for autonomous drones.

Add to the list in the comments or reach me on LinkedIn.