Machine learning and artificial intelligence are improving unmanned aerial systems, which most consumers know as drones.
The phrase is often used to describe a range of devices from small, helicopter-like devices remote-controlled by consumers to aircraft that pilots fly from remote locations. Using one term that runs the gamut from a $10 toy all the way to $10 million weapon can be confusing.
Clarifying Confusing Terms
Drones typically refer to any aircraft that doesn’t have a pilot inside it. This aircraft can be remotely guided, or it can operate autonomously. Two other terms used are UAV and UAS. UAV stands for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. UAVs are able to fly remotely or autonomously as well. Most consider an aircraft to be a UAV only if it is capable of some autonomous flight capabilities, as opposed to drones, which may be 100% remote-controlled.
UAS stands for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. A UAS includes the UAV and also the person on the ground controlling the flight. It also includes the control system that connects the person with the UAV. The UAV is simply one component of the UAS, as it refers to only the aircraft itself.
Making Emergency Landings Safer with AI and Machine Learning
AI and machine learning are helping to make emergency landings safer. Letting a UAS autonomously identify a safe landing area when a catastrophe arises makes for successful beyond-line-of-sight flights.
Machine learning algorithms and onboard processors capture and classify images at altitude. The solution processes large amounts of data fast. Objects and terrain to be avoided are identified so that the aircraft can be landed with little or no harm to people, property, or the craft.
Improving Drones with AI
Artificial intelligence is being used to create machines that can perform tasks much more efficiently than humans. AI needs no breaks, sick days, or vacations, and is working its way into virtually every industry, not just the unmanned flight space.
Drones used in the construction field can scan and map the terrain of building sites, doing in minutes what unaided humans would need a day to do. Drones are also working to solve problems with cities; a drone equipped with AI can quickly figure out why there is a traffic jam or how to solve an engineering dilemma for city structures.
Farmers are using AI-enabled drones to determine the best time to plant. The drone can also recommend the amount of fertilizer to use and when to apply it. Emergency drones can be used to drop supplies to disaster victims in hard-to-reach locations, assess damage, find injured people, or report crimes in real time.
Learn more about AI and embedded vision by visiting our Embedded Vision Systems in UAVs educational section at VisionOnline.org.