Monthly Archives: July 2016

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Use of Drones in the Railroad Industry

Railroads are among the networks that joins the country’s different parts together. When natural disaster’s strike, railroads can be at risk. This may happen due to storms, earthquakes or due to the floods that engulf railroads altogether. In such situations, it becomes impossible to figure out which part of the railroad is actually damaged and needs to be repaired and which sections are safe for transport. Due to the challenges faced by railroad officials in charge of determining the damages and safety of the tracks, drones are now finding their way into the railroad industry. Drones are capable of gathering information about railroads faster and more accurately. Drones are capable of providing safety to the railroad industry in the following ways:

· Giving video feeds ahead of the journey on the railroads

· Giving information about the condition of the rail bridges

· Accumulation of the debris on the railroad or the base of the bridge that can damage the bridge and make it unsafe for the trains to over them.

BNSF Railways, one of the largest railroad networks in the country, has been working with the FAA to explore the possibility of the use of drones in carrying out surveys and assessments for the trains to continue on their routes in an uninterrupted way.

Generally, all these works of keeping an eye on the condition of the railroads was the responsibility of the rail employees who would put their lives in danger to help the trains move safely.

There are not only the natural elements like earthquakes and floods that can damage the rails, but extreme heat in the seasons that experience high temperatures during summers can cause expansion of the railroads, whereas the temperature drops in the winters may cause the railroads to contract causing the cracks in the railroads. In addition to this, if there is snowfall and extreme cold conditions persist sending the officials for the inspection of the railroads to ensure safe passage of trains is very risky and there is always a danger to the lives of the rail officials.

However, with the use of drones in carrying out the inspection work the risk of endangering the lives of the officials is eliminated. Drones give the exact picture of what the condition in the field is and makes it possible for authorities to make prompt decisions and bring about the change in the route of the trains.

Drones carry out all the inspection work in any type of condition regardless of how harsh it is, and sends the data to the inspector who can use the data to identify any defects in the railroads. Thus, the lives of the officials are not put at risk when it comes to gathering critical data about the condition of the railroads. Moreover, the freight trains can also run without any fear of loss or accidents.

In closing, drones are making their way into all types of industries and the railroad industry is no exception. The ability to quickly and efficiently capture data in unsafe conditions makes drones a very feasible alternative to physically sending railroad officials into dangerous situations.

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Robotics Technology: The Future Of The World

Today’s robotics systems operate by way of hydraulic, pneumatic, and electrical power. Electric motors have become progressively smaller, with high power-to-weight ratios, enabling them to become the dominant means by which robots are powered.

Robots are, of course, comprised of several different elements, depending on their purpose. The hand of a robot, for instance, is referred to in the industry as an “end effector.” End effectors may be specialized tools, such as spot welders or spray guns, or more general-purpose grippers. Common grippers include fingered and vacuum types. Another central element of robotics control technology is the sensor. It is through sensors that a robotic system receives knowledge of its environment, to which subsequent actions of the robot can be adjusted. Sensors are used to enable a robot to adjust to variations in the position of objects to be picked up, to inspect objects, and to monitor proper operation (although some robots are able to adjust to variations in object placement without the use of sensors, provided they have sufficient end effector flexibility). Important sensor types include visual, force and torque, speed and acceleration, tactile, and distance sensors. The majority of industrial robots use simple binary sensing, analogous to an on/off switch. This does not permit sophisticated feedback to the robot as to how successfully an operation was performed. Lack of adequate feedback also often requires the use of guides and fixtures to constrain the motions of a robot through an operation, which implies substantial inflexibility in changing operations.

Robots are programmed either by guiding or by off-line programming. Most industrial robots are programmed by the former method. This involves manually guiding a robot from point to point through the phases of an operation, with each point stored in the robotic control system. With off-line programming, the points of an operation are defined through computer commands. This is referred to as manipulator level off-line programming. An important area of research is the development of off-line programming that makes use of higher-level languages, in which robotic actions are defined by tasks or objectives.

Robots may be programmed to move through a specified continuous path instead of from point to point. Continuous path control is necessary for operations such as spray painting or arc welding a curved joint. Programming also requires that a robot be synchronized with the automated machine tools or other robots with which it is working. Thus robot control systems are generally interfaced with a more centralized control system.

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Drone Use in the Field of Research

The unmanned aerial vehicle or drone is being used extensively in the field of research. There are many fields where the use of drones is becoming indispensable, especially in the field of research. The following are areas in which research is being used to make great advances in their field.

Armament Research

The use of drones by the army, navy and air force is no secret. The first of the drones were developed by military and the research is still strong. There is an attempt to develop more stable and more sensitive drones to be used as a companion of the soldiers in the battle field or on the borders for patrolling purposes.

Agricultural Research

The use of the unmanned aerial vehicle has been mostly made in the field of agriculture and it stands only after the use in military. Many countries like Japan and china have already allowed its citizen to use the drone for agricultural uses such as spraying of the pesticides and insecticides. The drones have also been used to monitor the vast agricultural lands or for the soil quality or the crops. The drones have been developed to carry out monitoring of the fields to figure out the time of sowing or harvesting.

Forestry Research

Drones have also found their use in the field of forestry and there is a great amount of research going on in order to make them more useful and more compatible with the forests and the environment there. The main use for which drones are being developed is to keep an eye on poachers and illegal hunting that threaten to disturb the ecosystem and the food chain of the forests. The use of other vehicles that cause emissions because they run on fossil fuels are already a threat to the ecosystem of the forest and therefore must be replaced by drones that run on batteries. These unmanned aerial vehicles are also an important resource for the forest officials because they let them know of any illegal activity going on in the forest without any direct encounter of the officials with the poachers or illegal tree fellers. The identification of the illegal elements can be made through the high quality and high speed cameras and forests can be saved. Also the incidences of forest fires can be handled in a better way by using drones not only to detect but also to out the fire.

Environmental Monitoring Research

Drones are being extensively developed to be used to monitor the changes in the environment in places that are either not safe for humans to venture or are too difficult to reach. Such places may lead to an increased cost of research if people attempt to reach there but the use of drones will not only bring down the cost considerably but also save many lives without compromising on the data collection as well as outcome of the research.

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Drone Use in Monitoring and Surveillance Services

When it comes to continuous monitoring of an event, a place or people the manpower that is required is extremely costly. The use of drones for monitoring purposes is clearly a step in the right direction. Drone monitoring services of various kinds are now available where service providers provide you with continuous monitoring of whatever you are hiring them for.

Monitoring the events where a lot of people have gathered through micro-drones can cut the cost greatly and improve the service as well. Some may argue that the small planes and helicopters can be used to monitor the events, and cameras can serve the same purpose as well. However, planes and helicopters make a lot of noise; they are not discreet and are a huge distraction. In addition, cameras can’t be placed everywhere and can’t provide you with the necessary shots at difficult angles. Since drones fly without making noise and can provide shots from angles that normal security cameras cannot provide makes drones a very viable option.

Drones can help in carrying out monitoring in a number of areas including security, monitoring illegal activities, natural disasters, concerts and big event, and more.

Security

National security and surveillance task forces can make great use of drone monitoring services. They can give live input at the borders and can help in detecting any infiltration in real time. Moreover, they can aid in operations against looters, in coastal surveillance, in monitoring and surveillance against human trafficking, in anti terror operations etc. The US has been actively using drones for matters of national security and has used drones to widespread media coverage not just for recording and surveillance but also for carrying and firing weapons in many cases.

Illegal activities

Many illegal activities require the criminals to use a certain place and monitoring of these places with micro-drones can thwart any such attempt. In this way, drones can help in catching illegal mining, excavations done in an illegal manner and smuggling.

Natural disasters

Natural disasters do not offer any warnings but there are areas that are known for experiencing them during certain months of the year. The use of the drones can help in monitoring the skies for any hint of these disasters and can help in alerting the people beforehand. Monitoring of catastrophes and tsunamis can help in preventing too much damage as well as later in assessing the damage that has been done.

Concerts and big events

The use of the drones in the monitoring of big events such as concerts as well as international summit can be really helpful in providing top class security. The reputation of a nation is at stake when officials of different countries arrive for some international summit and providing them security is the duty of the state which can be done very well if aerial monitoring is employed for the job.

Aerial monitoring with drone is easy and can easily bypass all the interruptions that are inevitable in monitoring done on ground.

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The Role of Drones in Asset Management and Logistics

In this day and age, drones are being utilized in all walks of life. Asset management is no exception. Companies are using drones for asset inspection purposes. These aerial vehicles have proven to be of a lot of help to organizations when it comes to surveying and inspecting their assets.

All over the world, businesses and utilities own a number of assets that need to be managed and assessed from time to time. The reason for this is that infrastructure can change and become susceptible to faults with the passage of time. In the past, the inspection and assessment of assets was done manually. It was a time consuming task which cost these companies a great deal of money. The introduction of drones however has made it a lot easier for a company to keep an eye on its assets. Such has been the impact of drones in this industry that they are being touted as the future of asset management.

Melbourne Water is one of the biggest water service providers in Australia. They have been using drones for the purpose of inspecting and assessing their infrastructure for quite some time. At present, Melbourne Water is utilizing the drones for inspecting two of their most important assets, the Main Southern Carrier of the Western Treatment Plant and the Thomson Dam Spillway. Drones are flown over these assets to inspect the state of these structures and to look for anomalies, such as:

  • Weed encroachment
  • Surface degradation
  • Chipping
  • Shifting
  • Cracking
  • Shifting of the panels

Melbourne Water has found drones to be quite useful in identifying faults in their infrastructure because of the high resolution photographs that the drones are able to take during its flights over the structures. It is for this reason that utility companies are looking to utilize drones for inspection of its other assets too.

Seeing the rising demand of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for asset inspection, numerous companies have started providing this service to the utilities. Cyberhawk Innovations, a remotely operated aerial vehicles manufacturing company is a pioneer in this field. The company reportedly carries out hundreds of inspections a year of industrial assets using remotely operated aerial vehicles (ROAVs). The use of drones in asset management has proved to reduce costs, improve safety, save time, and minimize the chances of shutdowns and service interruptions. The growing company also announced recently that they’re going to offer land surveying services. The targeted customers are utilities, civil engineering companies, and governments. The involvement of drones in other fields of the industry is expected to increase over the remaining course of the current decade.

The number of applications that drones are being used in the asset management field is significant. Drones can help in flood risk surveys, storm damage reports, ecological surveys and coastal erosion surveys, saving thousands of lives in the process during any massive natural crisis. They also have other industrial purposes like 3D modeling, historic building surveys, and archeological site recording.