Advantages of Drone In a Box Solutions
Drone-in-a-box (DiaB) solutions are indeed the way forward to autonomous RPAS operations. A drone that can take off and precisely land back on its docking station with automated Command, Control and Communication architectures coupled with data management and charging solutions obviously provides end users enormous benefits. The notion of autonomous drones being placed inside autonomous base stations poised and ready to conduct flight operations at a moment’s notice, in a bygone era would have been considered the pipe dream of science fiction writers. However, today the reality is that drone-in-a-box technology not only exists, but its adoption is also exponentially increasing globally. Excitingly this is occurring with regulatory approval which was once considered a bottleneck to the proliferation of the technology.
The Dawn of an Era
Drone-in-a-box technology undoubtedly has the potential to change the way workflows are conducted across the globe. The technology for industries such as mining, security, construction and public safety services seems purpose-built. This coupled with the pandemic and a requirement for these types of industries to maintain situational awareness over their sites, whilst keeping personnel onsite to a minimum has added to the expedited proliferation of the technology.
What Is Required to Operate a Drone In a Box?
To operate drone in a box technology and to maximise the full autonomy that is so sort after the following is a list of items that need to be considered for best results:-
- LTE Connectivity or Designated Data Installed – A stable data connection is essential for all drone-in-a-box technology to operate as intended. This connectivity ensures the drone in a box has command, control and communications architectures in place all of which need to be interrogated remotely. It is desirable if a designated data line can be installed on a permanent drone in a box installation. However, this is not always achievable or practical as some drone-in-a-box manufacturers are looking to have their technology mobile, operating from the back of trailers or pickups. Alternatively, the infrastructure simply may not be in place to support a fixed data line. In these circumstances, LTE on either the 4G or 5G network is the option. Manufacturers utilise the LTE network differently from manufacturer to manufacturer. For instance, some manufacturers utilise the LTE network to control the base. From the base to the drone is then an RF link others choose to have independent sim cards in the drone as well as data to the base for an increased range. With new technologies such as Space X “Starlink” now on the market, it enables drone-in-a-box solutions to be conducted in LTE-denied locations making drone-in-a-box technology in remote locations now a reality.
- Power – A stable source of power for the drone in a box is essential to maintain the system online and allow the functionality of its features including autonomous charging capabilities. For a fixed permanent installation mains power may be run underground ensuring a clean, stable supply. Otherwise, there are solar options or generators however these options may require an element of servicing at regular intervals
- Location including an Alternate Landing Zone – The operational location of the drone in a box needs careful consideration. Firstly the drone needs to be placed where data and power can be supplied along with consideration to the localised weather conditions, particularly in relation to the wind. Ideally locating the drone in a box system somewhere onsite that may be shielded from prevailing winds may be a positive ensuring smooth take-off and landings. Personnel entering the drone in a box location may be a risk needing to be mitigated and depending on your safety requirements the area may need to be fenced off with signage ensuring all within the vicinity are aware of the drone in a box’s operating location. On top of this, an alternate landing zone needs to be defined should the base station become inoperable. This location would also need to be evident to any person that could access this location as it would be utilised in the event the drone can not land back on its base station for any reason.
- Weather Station – Manufacturers all have the ability to integrate localised weather stations into their drone in a box systems. The data gained from such weather stations is used to mitigate the system’s ability to operate in adverse weather conditions and determines if the prevailing conditions are in fact safe for operations to commence. It also monitors if the conditions are within parameters to land back on the docking station.
- Regulatory Approval or Waivers – For many industries, it is the number one key focal point to enable autonomy across their operations. In the case of drone-in-a-box technology, this means operating the technology from a remote command centre (ROC) with Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) approval. The good news is that this has already been achieved in Australia by our regulatory partner Hover UAV. Hover UAV has worked closely with the regulator and has achieved approvals to operate drone in box systems from a remote command centre with BVLOS approval. Read about it here.
C3 Drones and Robotics – Experience with Drone in a Box solutions
C3 Drones and Robotics has years of experience operating DiaB systems ranging from the Percepto system to Hexatronic. Software solutions are also something that C3 drones and robotics are extremely familiar with. With new systems coming onto the market all the time C3 drones and robotics are committed to keeping up with industry developments ensuring our customers get only the latest information in regards to DiaB solutions. Should you have any inquiries about this technology please do not hesitate to gain contact.