Drone – Modern Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
The term ‘Drone’ was originally applied to pilotless airplanes. In present times, ‘Drone’ has become a buzzword that refers to any modern Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Unmanned Systems. It is also referred as ‘Quadcopter’ as it is a multi-rotor helicopter that is lifted and propelled by four rotors.
How Drones came into existence?
The history of Drones goes back to year 1915, when A.M.Low’s “Aerial Target” was the earliest attempt as powered UAV. Since then the advances followed and military of various countries confirmed the usage of UAV for defence as well as attacks.
In present scenario, drones have evolved to an extent that apart from being used in military for security related tasks, UAV that have been reduced to a size of a handy drone can be used as Civil as well as commercial UAVs.
Application of Drones:
Drones have become so ubiquitous in applications like agriculture, science, journalism, search and rescue, etc. It also helps for reporting in conditions like natural disasters, live sports, surface mapping, covering events, heavy traffics, etc. Apart from government agencies, drones are also being used for civil and commercial use and at hobby level too.
Popular Drones 2016
3D Robotics’ Drones
It is an American Company that designs and manufactures recreational and commercial drones. They have produced some ready-to-fly quadcopters that can be used for aerial mapping and photography and fixed wing UAVs that are based on Ardupilot platform.
It came up with its 3DR Solo model that has some price cuts than earlier models. But people reported some issues with it like it does not have its own camera and has spotty GPS and short battery life.
Parrot SA is a French wireless products manufacturer company that specializes in developing flying robots or drones. Parrot AR. Drone is one of the popular quadcopter from Parrot, that can be controlled by customised iOS or Android apps for Drone. The latest and improved version, AR.Drone 2.0 is upgraded to improve the drone’s functionality. It comes with more sensitive onboard sensors for more control, enhanced ultrasound altimeter for stable flight, updated Wi-Fi Hardware and extended battery life.
Parrot also launched open API for game development platform. Due to this open source platform, Parrot’s AR.Drone has becoming increasingly popular in research and education. ‘Yet Another Drone’ is an open source framework available to build applications for AR Drone in Java.
Dominance of DJI Drones
As per present market scenario, DJI drone models leads the market. It is a Chinese company that is at forefront of civilian drone industry. One of the eminent product from them is ‘Phantom’, a series of quadcopters that have evolved with integrated flying system with camera, Wi-Fi connectivity, pilot’s mobile device and a controller. These are mostly popular for aerial photography, cinematography applications as well as among hobbyists.
The series evolved as Phantom 2, Phantom 2 Vision+, Phantom 3 Professional, Phantom 3 4K and Phantom 4. The latest in the series, Phantom 4 has some amazing features as:
Tap to Fly feature: This feature allows you to let the drone fly with a tap of the finger. It can fly in any direction without any remote controller.
- Accuracy with hovering: it has improved Vision Positioning System with four sensors that brings increased precision in hovering and reliability. This gives an easier and safer experience to controller. Even if it is disturbed while hovering, VPS will track Phantom’s movement and it will return to its initial hovering position.
- Easy tracking of moving subject: with ActiveTrack, it can track a moving subject in few taps. Turning on the Moving POI allows you to encircle the subject as they move, by dragging subject on screen.
- Improved flight Time: It has got the larger battery that extends the flight time of Phantom 4 to 28 minutes.
- Sport Mode: This feature allows you to fly faster (with top speed of 72 Kph/44.7 mph) and also gives best-in-class flight control.
Raffaello D’Andrea explores the astounding power of drones and demonstrates the drones that balance, play catches and make decisions together.
Programming for Drone
Even though the drone entered the consumer market only in early 2000’s, it got popular extensively. Drone industry comes with huge opportunity of developing customised applications that helps in more controlled and valuable usage of drones in various fields. With the maturing technology, highly priced UAVs became reasonable that came to as low as £400. With this and with the growing importance of drones commercially, software is catching up with the hardware of drones.
Amazing iOS quadcopter apps and innovative Android quadcopter apps can be built for easy controlling and precision flying. Customised drone apps can let you understand when to fly, identify no flying zones, recommend flying zones/favourable spots, track the drone, draw the path, generate the flying pattern, etc.
DJI Drone Programming
DJI has come up with the latest version of software development kit that would help develop robust application ecosystem for DJI drones. New Mobile SDK 3.0, Onboard SDK and Guidance SDK are available that would facilitate both software and hardware developers.
DJI’s Mobile SDK 3.0 is a powerful tool for developing customised Drone mobile app for both Android and iOS, which can be used to exploit the full potential of DJI’ aerial platforms like Phantom series, Matrice 100 and Inspire Series.
DJI SDK is designed specially for robust and customised app development for UAVs. It is designed in a way that takes care of flight elements like attitude algorithms, battery management, stabilization, flight safety and signal transmission. This enables developer to focus more on developing the core application. The Mobile SDK is used for mobile devices to communicate with controller. The Onboard SDK is for communication between onboard devices and flight controller. Guidance SDK is used for extracting data from DJI Guidance to sense the surrounding environment. All these three SDKs can either work independently or together, equally well. Using the SDKs in collaboration provides a larger and more efficient way of application development.
Scope of App Development for Drones/Quadcopters:
Designing and developing new apps for Drones can be built that will lead to astounding experiences in business tools, gamification, entertainment, information display, etc. An Android based open source framework, Flyver, facilitates the development of intuitive Android Apps for Quadcopters. Flyver App Marketplace has also been made available for developers, to launch their robust Android Apps for Drones.
Another boost in the piloting drone technology is development of tools for smart glasses that will allow drone pilots to monitor their quadcopter.
We would also like to refer some interesting Apple’s drone apps. Ground Station is the companion app for DJI hardware that enables you to use iPad to make your aircraft stay on flight course which has been already set in the app. Drone Dance for AR.Drone is another app that allows your drone to dance through Parrot hardware.
Going through the types of apps developed and platforms available, it can be concluded effectively that drones offer a very broad range of possibilities that are yet to be explored. Apps for drones can facilitate many industries on B2C as well as B2B services.
Android and iOS App development for 3D Robotics drone
3D Robotics provides a flexible and open source API in Python called as DroneKit. The SDK can be used for developing quadcoptor applications that could be executed from on-board computer and can communicate with flight controller ArduPilot (Developer Ecosystem) with a low latency link.
Android and iOS app development for parrot drones
Parrot for developers is the new platform developed by Parrot for software developers. SDK 3.9 is the latest and free SDK available for Parrot developers with full documentation. The code can be written for your smartphone, smartwatch and VR glasses too. So the next big drone application can be developed by Parrot developers using the SDK.
Android and iOS app development for DJI drones
The DJI developer’s SDK available for professionals to build apps to supervise and control the drone from any system, either mobile or wearable devices, connected to quadcopter’s automatic pilot through standard interface. DJI’s APIs allows DJI’s developers to build an algorithm that is capable of controlling the drone ‘using any kind of programming language and for different operating systems’.
How development of applications for drones will make a difference?
- Control: Drone apps will allow you to control important flight elements like take-off, route followed by drone and landing.
- Access to the data about route followed: all the data collected by quadcopter will be available from system information in real time. Data like velocity, height, point of origin, destination, possible errors, etc.
- Transmission of this data in real time: Drone apps allows transmission of above mentioned data in real time to the display device through which UAV is controlled.
- Other Important functionalities like: taking images from air, control of three axes for handling camera angles and stability, extender for greater Wi-Fi Connection, battery information, recording video in real time and many more.
Are you looking for professional quadcopter App Developers or DJI drone app developers? We are a multinational software development and IT solutions company. Our in house team of professional drone programmers are available to provide the biggest advantage out of fast emerging drone industry through developing robust UAV apps for better solutions.
For more insight into flying robots watch Dr. Vijay Kumar’s Talk for his work in building flying robots.