Unmanned aircraft systems are mostly used by the military in the United States. Lately civilians have also used these applications to a great extent based on the improved accessibility and availability of sensors, GPS, as well as associated hardware to assemble this kind of equipment. The Unmanned aircrafts are used in a variety of fields and operations. These operations include natural disaster monitoring, observation of wildlife, measurement of vineyards as well as landscape viewing.
An example of a current civil UAS application currently being used in the United States is the B4UFLY smartphone Application. This application offers information to users regarding the availability of any restrictions whenever they want to fly an unmanned aircraft. Associations are being formed in the airspace industry to ensure that there is safe and responsible use of unmanned aircraft. This application is playing a great role in monitoring the use of these unmanned aircrafts by the citizens. The application is modified in a way that it contains information on areas that can be accessed by the unmanned aircraft and those areas that are restricted. The application also reports to the authorities on the manner in which the unmanned aircraft is being used and for what purpose. This ensures that these unmanned aircrafts are used for the right purposes.
Some of the advantages of using unmanned aircraft system as compared to other methods include; The UAS is efficient in remote sensing of range lands since they fly lowly and following this low flying heights they are able to capture high resolution images. The other advantage is the reduced costs as compared to the piloted aircrafts. The other advantage of the UAS is that they enable the coverage of inaccessible areas such as during disasters such as disease outbreaks, volcanic eruptions and unstable water bodies. The technique is also cheaper in generation of data that is necessary for land use planning, geological surveys, forest management as well as urban planning as compared to other manned techniques. The technique is also advantageous as compared to other manned methods since it does not disturb the object under study or interest. For instance through the technique, wildlife is captured under its natural state as compared to when manned techniques were used. These manned techniques in most cases disrupted the wildlife and their natural behaviors are hard to capture. The other advantage of the technique is the fact that it is the only way that can be used to obtain data from inaccessible areas.
On the other hand unmanned aircraft systems have their own limitations and disadvantages. One of the limitations is the initial costs of acquiring the equipment. The software and hardware equipment needed for this technique to operate is expensive. The other limitation is the fact that these systems need special training for the crew and such training comes at a cost since this is not knowledge that is common to many. The other limitation is the limited availability of high quality and lightweight sensors. Since the equipment is meant to fly, lightweight sensors are needed and they are scarce in the market. The other limitation is the FAA regulations for operating a UAS in the United States airspace.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems as we have discussed above play a key role mostly in military operations alongside other operations. On the other hand these systems are subject to misuse and proper regulations and monitoring is required. The authorities are ensuring that this by the development of applications such as B4UFLY which is a monitoring and regulation smartphone application.
Austin, R. (2010). Unmanned aircraft systems: UAVs design, development and deployment. Chichester: Wiley.
Casos, D. G. (2010). Unmanned aircraft systems: Strengths and weaknesses. New York: Nova Science Publishers.