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Why UAVs Are Not Always Just About The Data

Among the experts and thought leaders within the unmanned aircraft systems industry, there is a commonly-shared thematic belief. Recent news would offer argument against that theme.
By Luke Geiver | December 17, 2015

Among the experts and thought leaders within the unmanned aircraft systems industry, there is a commonly-shared thematic belief when it comes to the potential of UAS. The potential of UAS to impact everything is linked to the data and information that can be gleaned from the unmanned flight. It is about the data, not the platform, the theme goes.

While in many cases that might be true, there are some instances when the true potential of UAS is directly linked to the type of platform used. Recent news proves that sometimes the platform is the only thing that matters to the UAS industry realizing its great potential and from helping to continue to grow.

The first example is related to platforms that are deploying a high-tech approach to power. This week, Intelligent Energy, a U.K.-based hydrogen fuel cell developer, announced that it would be showcasing its unique sUAV prototype at the largest electronics show in the world, CES in Las Vegas. The Intelligent Energy system is now one of many that have turned to hydrogen fuel power as a means to keep UAVs in flights for hours instead of minutes and recharge a system in minutes instead of hours.

For the potential of UAS used for agriculture or infrastructure assessment to be totally limitless, UAVs will have to be flown for hours. A hydrogen-powered option could make that possible. So, in this case, the potential of UAS is all about the platform used.

Drone Aviation Holding Corp, a manufacturer of tethered drones, was just given the commercial green light from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for use in news gathering for a major news gathering organization. For some news gathering organization looking to deploy UAVs, the tethered option is preferred. News gathering via drones for them, at least for now, will depend in a large part on the access to and ability of tethered options that can stay in air for long periods of time and are easy to operate. Again, at least in this case, the potential expansion of UAVs into more end-use applications is not linked to anything other than the UAV platform.