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Drones and Their Use by Governmental and Private Instances

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Flying a Drone for Enjoyment

Drones and Their Use by Governmental and Private Instances

A drone is an unmanned remotely controlled flying vehicle that also can be used for specific work in addition to just being able to fly around. Drones are used for photographic and video recording from above. Some are used to perform scientific or technical measurements. Some carry weapons and are used as combat tools.

Still other are used to carry cargo and post between places. The latest development are drones that carry tools for installation and repair.

The basic technology in a drone consist of some kind of power plant, some propulsion mechanism, some kind of steering mechanism, some kind of sensors to recognize place and path and a sender-receiver unit to transmit and receive signals for steering and recording.

Drones are found in all shapes you can find in greater airplanes, and also in all kind of exotic shapes, like oblong airships, disks, triangles, donuts, stars or can resemble big insects or birds.

Small or light drones are typically driven by propellers connected to electric motors powered by batteries. Steadily more one produces very light drones, powered by solar panels, that can fly in the air for several weeks in principle.

Some drones are held aloft by gas lighter that air, like a blimp, which also makes the drone able to hold itself in the air for a long time. Greater or heavier drones are mostly powered by some kind of combustion engine, like piston motors, turboprop motors or turbojet motors.

It is also possible to construct drones powered by nuclear energy that can stay aloft for days or weeks, and especially if those drones are partially made as gas-filled blimps. Such nuclear power sources need not be what is considered atomic reactors.

The energy source can be special isotopes that radiate intensely and thereby produce enough heat to power the drone. Some of these isotopes radiate mostly alpha-rays or beta-rays that can be shielded off without heavy armors.

Since most uses of drones are held secret or simply not announced publicly, it is difficult to give a full account of the extent of their use and who are using them, but a fairly clear picture emerges based on official sources, journalistic and scientific articles, commercials from drone producers, and stories of people coming in touch with drones in use.

Most drones are probably used by civil authorities and property owners for domestic surveillance of various kind, like border control, road traffic surveillance, wildfire detection, air photography, geographic mapping, pipeline control, electric grid control and surveillance of crowd behavior.

Drones are steadily more used to transmit views of sport championships. Police forces use drones for detection and investigation of crimes, a practice that also seems to involve direct spying by drones on private citizens at their homes.

Military forces have since long used drones for surveillance of foreign territories and combat zones. The use of small tactical drones for delivery of bombs, launch of missiles and gunning is old but is getting steadily more important. By 2014 such drones are extensively used to surveil terrorist bases, to bomb such bases and to kill individuals suspected of terrorism.

A classical surveillance drone used both for military and sivil authorities is the RQ-4 global Hauk. The small helicopter drones Northrop-Grumman MQ-8 (A,B and C) fire scout are examples of the smaller surveillance-combat drones used in local operations and launched from small vessels or from land-based troupes.

Greater long range drones, comparable to bomber planes, is in use both for surveillance and to destroy targets at ground level and at sea. Well-known examples of these are the Atomics MQ-1 predator, the Atomics MQ-9 Reaper able to carry a heavier load of arms and the still more advanced stealthy jet-driven combat drone Atomics Avenger. The Isreeli Eitan drone is a big long-range surveillance and ground level combat drone able to keep itself aloft for 70 hours.

Effective laser guns have by now been invented, and drones armed by laser guns are probably a reality by 2014, at least in experimental versions, but these drones must be of some size because the laser needs a large power generator driven by a turbine engine.

The technical control mechanisms are however by 2014 probably not so far advanced that one has been able to construct fully reliable supersonic drones with fighter jet capabilities. Unmanned supersonic stealthy fighter jets have however been under construction for some time and they are by 2014 since long been flown for test. Of these Northrop-Grumman stealth bomber drone x47B is by 2014 near to be deployed for realistic tests of combat operations form aircraft carriers.

The British company BAE is developing a stealthy supersonic fighter-bomber drone in a project called Taranis. The French producer Dessault together with other European participants are working on a similar project, called nEUROn.

Both projects have produced experimental versions that are flown for test by 2014. There are speculations that the 6th generations of fighter jets will be unmanned or can be flown manned or as drones depending on choice. Lockheed-Martin Skunk Works and Boeing Corporation Phantom Works are leading American developers of combat vehicles, including unmanned planes.

Information available seems to indicate that Lockheed Martin is developing unmanned combat planes which use much of the same technology as the F35B stealthy, vertical take-off and landing, supersonic fighter, and that they also are developing a high-flying hypersonic unmanned spy-plane. It is logical to think that this hypersonic plane also will get bombing capabilities.

Drones that mimic birds or other small animals have been developed and can be used for spying, gunning or injection of poison in targets. There are rumors that such drones already are in use by certain authority units.

Rumors can tell that even spy and attack drones resembling insects in shape and size is being developed. Probably the microtechnology has still not come so far that such drones can be made, but the physical posibility of making such drones is there.

USA have plans to let construct drones made as blimps and powered by solar panels to be permanently stationed in the upper zones of the atmosphere for surveillance. Such drones can be made to lower altitude to avoid clouds and to patrol an area, something one cannot do with satellites. But possibly high flying drones that operate aloft for days or weeks, powered by nuclear energy are already in use since long. Certain UFO observations seem to point in that direction.

One can ask how often people see drones in flight or in use by 2014. There is of course not any statistics about this. Sometimes people see flying objects that clearly are recognized as drones. Most often it will be difficult to decide what is seen. Most UFO reports by 2014 are probably caused by drones.

Since at least bigger drones are comparable to other air traficants, they are obliged to keep lanterns and other means to warn against the possibility for collision, but since government instances operating drones typically want to keep the flight secret, such lanterns will possibly be lit only when other traffic is in the neighbourhood, or when the operators want visual contact. This kind of intermittent light emission is typical of many classical UFO sightings.

Also the flight pattern of a drone that are used for surveillance and investigation will mimic the pattern seen by objects in UFO reports: Sometimes they fly foreword with various velocity, sometimes they stop and just hover, they will often change direction, they will come from above, do some maneuvers near the ground and then fly up and away.

Also lights from drones can be used to illuminate targets, often at the ground, for image recording, which is also seen in classical UFO stories. Also many drones have a shape like a classical UFO. Furthermore, drones will make only little noise, which also is characteristic of so-called UFOs.

Animals and Birds Use Retinal Jitter Strategies To Focus – Should Drones Use A Similar Technique

Drone Above Dubai

Have you ever wondered how you can walk or jog, with your head bouncing up and down, while still focusing on an object either nearby or far away? Have you noticed how you can do the same and judge distance, speed of object, and minute details of that object quickly and accurately?

Well, the reason you can do this so well is how the mind using frame bursting of images from your memory, and retinal jitter to help you quickly fill in the details, meanwhile your visual cortex fills in the blanks – all this happening in micro-seconds using a brain that is barely drawing 20-watts of power. Wow, talk about a state-of-the-art organic design and technology – impressive my fellow human.

Of course, some animals and birds do this even better than we do, with much smaller brains. Consider if you will an owl, hawk, or bald-eagle. The phrase “Eagle Eyes” is apropos here, think about it. Using biomimicry strategies perhaps we can make our UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) or drone video imaging more powerful and acute – and in doing so, consider for a moment the number of applications this will affect?

How are we doing so far with these concepts? Well, 3-axis gimbals are the most sought by small drone owners, but why have a 3-axis if you can make a 4,5,or 6-axis gyro stabilization gimbal for better video resolution and accuracy. That would certainly assist in stabilizing the video camera, so too do quad copter designs which are quite stable even in moderate turbulence.

Let’s talk about strategies for a moment – to get to that eagle eye ability we see in nature. One patent, “Apparatus and methods for stabilization and vibration reduction,” US 9277130 B2, duly states: “Currently, there exists primarily four methods of vibration dampening commonly employed in photography and videography to reduce the effects of vibration on the picture: software stabilization, lens stabilization, sensor stabilization, and overall shooting equipment stabilization.”

What if we also work with visual recognition systems for frame bursting, only focusing on things that meet our mission criteria, “OR” are complete anomalies (out of place). In a human mind, things out of place often trigger the N400 brain wave, evoking curiosity, nuance, or interest. We can program the same using algorithms requiring the video camera to; investigate, identify and act.

Or, as Colonel Boyd’s “OODA Loop Strategy” suggests: Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. And the fighter pilot who can do that quickest should win the aerial dog-fight provided they make good use of their energy and air-speed. Good advice, even if we borrow it to discuss how best to program a UAS (unmanned aerial system) to complete a task or mission.

In one paper ” Model-based video stabilization for micro aerial vehicles in real-time,” the abstract states; “The emerging branch of Micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) has attracted a great interest for their indoor navigation capabilities, but they require a high quality video for tele-operated or autonomous tasks.

A common problem of on-board video quality is the effect of undesired movement, and there are different approaches for solving it with mechanical stabilizers or video stabilizer software. Very few video stabilizer software can be applied in real-time and their algorithms do not consider intentional movements of the tele-operator.”

Indeed, this is the problem and it is a real one if we ever hope to send drones out to do autonomous missions, whether delivering a package or work as a flying security guard for let’s say a commercial construction site.

That paper goes on to suggest a way to solve some of these challenges, namely: “A novel technique is introduced for real-time video stabilization with low computational cost, without generating false movements or decreasing the performance. Our proposal uses a combination of geometric transformations and outliers rejection to obtain a robust inter-frame motion estimation, and a Kalman Filter based on a dynamic model.”

Now then, although there are folks working on these things, it is obvious that until the sensors, imaging and equipment get better at such tasks, we will not fulfill the desire to allow drones to do work autonomously in a safe and efficient manner garnering the benefits we expect of these technologies in the future. I hope you will consider my thoughts here and some of my recommendations to borrow strategies from nature to accomplish such goals.


A.) “Vision-Based Detection and Distance Estimation of Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” by Fatih Gokce, Gokturk Ucoluk, Erol Sahin and Sinan Kalkan. Sensors 2015, 15(9), 23805-23846; doi: 10.3390/s150923805

B.) Thesis: “Accelerated Object Tracking with Local Binary Features,” by Breton Lawrence Minnehan of Rochester School of Technology; July 2014.

C.) “Model-based video stabilization for micro aerial vehicles in real-time,” by Wilbert G Aguilar and Cecilio Angulo.

D.) “Real time Megapixel Multispectral Bioimaging,” by Jason M. Eichenholz, Nick Barnetta, Yishung Juanga, Dave Fishb, Steve Spanoc, Erik Lindsleyd, and Daniel L. Farkasd.

E.) “Enhanced Tracking System Based on Micro Inertial Measurements Unit to Measure Sensorimotor Responses in Pigeons,” by Noor Aldoumani, Turgut Meydan, Christopher M Dillingham, and Jonathan T Erichsen.

Thrust Bearing Use For Quadcopter Drone Propeller Assembly And Air Bearings For Inner Motor Assembly

Should we be using different bearings for our high-speed rotor blades which are used on the most common drone types like the Quadcopter designs? I believe so, as these drones need to be very reliable, long range, and will have important cargo onboard as part of their important missions whether on the battlefield, commercial application or delivering you a very important pizza or Amazon package.

Not long ago, I was listening to an interesting NASA podcast on rotorcraft air bearings and foil bearings:

NASA Aeronautics Research Technical Seminar Podcast Series:

“Technical Seminar 16: Oil-Free Turbomachinery Technology for Rotorcraft Propulsion and Advanced Aerospace Propulsion and Power 1:14:33 11/24/2008. Oil-Free Turbomachinery Technology for Rotorcraft Propulsion and Advanced Aerospace Propulsion and Power”

This got me thinking that not only is this relevant to today’s military aircraft, space flight propulsion, future jet engines, but also relevant for high-speed little motors that spin well over 10,000 RPM. If we want these motors to last and if there are multiple motors per flying craft; MAV – Micro Air Vehicle, UAS – Unmanned Aerial System, or PFC – Personal Flying Craft (Air Taxi) then it makes sense to use such technology.

You see, I was thinking that it would sure be nice to lighten-up the motors on such future VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft concept designs since there are often 3-4 motors or more. Some of the benefits are very apropos:

1.) Nearly Maintenance Free Bearing Assembly

2.) Reduced Weight

3.) More even friction heat

This is a very good thing due to the geometry and weight distribution that Quadcopters have. Lower weight means more payload, less fuel and/or longer range.

Perhaps the weight savings of lube oil, (2-types needed in normal current helicopter technology) on each of the four motors could also give weight space for electromagnetic bearings with a thrust bearing combination around the outer ring on the rotorblades to control vibration and free-wheel free of drag, and easy start. If the motors happen to be electric, even better in this case. If high speed gas turbines we save weight and add safety to a nearly maintenance free design.

Some of the NASA tests have concluded 60,000 hours with no damage or need to replace parts or bearings. For a rotorcraft this is nearly unheard of due to the harsh environment they fly and the fact that the motors are under so significant load all the time the aircraft is airborne.

Now then, for the outer assembly – more safety is garnered by outer bearings, but reduced friction is the key, thus, electromagnetic system makes sense, but due to weight perhaps not 100% magnetic. This article explains the concept of Thrust Bearings and the combinations I propose we employ.

“Design, Fabrication, and Performance of Foil Gas Thrust Bearings for Microturbomachinery Applications,” by Brian Dykas, Robert Bruckner, Christopher DellaCorte, Brian Edmonds, and Joseph Prahl. (NASA/TM-2008-215062, January 2008; GT2008-50377).

Currently, we know that the quadcopter design is probably one of the most stable designs yet, but most quadcopters are only toys, small drones, and have a limited payload. If we want these types of designs to fly around people, heavy weight, or become our future flying cars and air taxis, commuter shuttles, we’ll need near 100% safety, that means current rotorcraft components may not be viable. Please think about the future, maybe you can have a flying car after all?

*Additional Cites to Consider When Evaluating This Concept:

A.) “Preliminary Analysis for an Optimized Oil-Free Rotorcraft Engine Concept,” by Samuel A. Howard, Robert J. Bruckner, Christopher, Kevin C. Radil. (NASA/TM-2008-215064 March 2008; ARL-TR-4398).

B.) “Tribology: Principles and Design Applications,” by R. D. Arnell, P. B. Davies, J. Halling, T. L. Whomes.

C.) “Measurements of Drag Torque, Lift-Off Journal Speed and Temperature in a Metal Mesh Foil Bearing,” by Luis San Andres, T. A. Chirathadam, Keun Ryu, and Tae Ho Kim (J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power 132(11), 112503 (Aug 11, 2010) (7 pages)doi:10.1115/1.4000863).

D.) “Thermohydrodynamic Model Predictions and Performance Measurements of Bump-Type Foil Bearing for Oil-Free Turboshaft Engines in Rotorcraft Propulsion Systems,” by Tae Ho Kim and Luis San Andres. (J. Tribol 132(1), 011701 (Nov 11, 2009) (11 pages)doi:10.1115/1.4000279).

E.) “Foil Bearing Starting Considerations and Requirements for Rotorcraft Engine Applications,” by K. C. Radil (Army Research Lab) and C. Della Corte (NASA). August 2009, Doc # 201200112857, (ARL-TR-4873, E-18263).

The History of Drones and How They Came Into Every Day Use

Like any other great invention, drones have been around for many years, although they were not available for general public and were not as easy to fly as they are today. The modern drones are now controlled with the help software applications and are capable of sending back real-time imagery in high resolution along with flight parameters and status to analyze the data for various useful purposes.

These machines are now officially known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and they are found in many types and sizes depending on the functionality they offer and their purpose.

Why Build Drones?

The development of modern drones has remained a practice throughout the world and even in developing countries because these machines have unlimited uses. They allow you to remove pilots from areas of danger. Since the machines do not house a pilot, there is no need for a cockpit and other accessories that a pilot requires in order to fly an aircraft. This cuts significantly on the costs required to build an aircraft.

Cost is a major consideration when it comes to building aircraft and other defense equipment and machines as there is usually not enough budget to fulfill all requirements. Military drones are being used for a number of purposes, most importantly intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

Modern drones fulfill these requirements to a great extent as timely and accurate information acquisition is very important for the success of all military projects. The machines are able to provide continuous surveillance and a complete and accurate picture of enemy resources in order to plan a successful combat.

Drones have also been used extensively for weather research and monitoring. There is a need to inform the concerned authorities especially the Navy in case of a dangerous weather. If there is a failure to forecast a bad weather, it results in great loss of transport, cargo, and precious human lives.

Brief History of Drones

Today’s cruise missiles have a very well-known precursor known as the aerial or naval torpedo. However, this type of weapon was supposed to be dropped into water in order to reach its target and therefore was associated with the navy.

These were first introduced in World War I and were still popular during World War II. These devices and other aircraft used by the military personnel without a pilot on board were later termed unmanned aerial vehicles. This term became popular in the early 1990’s when robotic aircraft were developed to carry out various operations. Drones were defined as;

Vehicles powered by batteries that take off the ground using aerodynamic forces and fly in the air autonomously or through a remote controller or transmitter and can also carry a payload are known as unmanned aerial vehicles.

Aircraft such as cruise missiles and ballistic vehicles do not come under this category. Also, unpowered vehicles, such as gliders are not included in this list. Aerial vehicles used for combat missions without a pilot are now more commonly known as “drones”.

In 1920’s, pilotless aircraft were tested by the Army and these were called “Bugs”. These machines were controlled by electrical and vacuum-pneumatic controls. After some time, the aircraft automatically turned itself off and would fall to the ground. It was a very heavy vehicle – weighing up to 80 kg and wherever it fell, it was considered an enemy target.

Today’s guided missiles can be traced back to this forerunner that was discontinued around the end of 1920’s. A couple of decades later anti-aircraft target practice came into being and for this pilotless planes were used. Much later, USA started using drones that were not very technically advanced for the purpose of electronic intelligence gathering, reconnaissance, and surveillance.

However, since data transfer was not as fast as it is today, the filming for intelligence gathering wasn’t of much use. By the time it reached the concerned authorities, it was too late. Another aircraft was developed in the 1950s that was powered by a jet and used rocket assistance for launch.

This drone was used to carry out pre-programmed missions as well as reconnaissance and autonomous flights. This was probably the best match of today’s lightweight, powerful drones and has provided many of its useful features to its successors. Other machines were also developed and tested, but they didn’t become popular or successful.

Aircraft versus Aerial Vehicles

There is a need to differentiate between the terms aircraft and aerial vehicles. Aircraft encompass all airborne flying machines governed by some sort of government regulations and if they are operated by pilots these personnel need to be licensed.

However, the term unmanned aerial vehicle refers to a machine that can be used even by a layman and requires no regulated training or license of any sort. Since the FAA is chartered to regulate aircraft, it coined the term remotely operated aircraft or ROA that defined all aerial vehicles remotely controlled by a user that didn’t need to be a certified pilot to fly these machines.

The modern aerial vehicles are successors of those machines that were developed in the 1970s by Israel. These flying machines were meant for battlefield data collection and were responsible for sending back real-time data for analysis. Other similar projects were developed for a number of different purposes including;

  • Naval gunfire spotting
  • Adjusting artillery fire
  • Surveillance
  • Target acquisition

Countries other than the USA and Israel that are working on the development of modern more sophisticated drones and aerial vehicles include China, Japan, Russia, Italy, France, Germany, and Great Britain.

Robby Davis

Robby Davis

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At CoastPrivate, we’re more than simply a jet charter company; we’re a full-service private aviation brokerage offering a wealth of solutions, from ad-hoc charter and elite jet card membership programs, to airliner charters, private jet leasing and private jet sales worldwide.

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