Over the last decade, unmanned aircraft have been used to photograph wildlife, surveil urban areas and monitor earthquakes.
But how many people are actually willing to fly an aircraft in a public space?
“Drones are a great idea to film wildlife, but the technology is expensive,” explains Dan Dorman, director of the Drone Technology Program at the U.S. Geological Survey.
“There are lots of issues with that, and the cost is the issue.
It’s a lot of money, so it’s not really a very good use of the time and resources.”
In order to film a drone, you have to have a drone with a high enough resolution to capture the full-motion video.
That requires a good camera, but most drones have a low-resolution camera that will work for capturing still images.
But what if you wanted to take a drone flying near a bridge?
“If you had a camera that’s just really good at capturing the full, the full 3D, and it’s a high resolution camera that you could use to take aerial photos, then it could be a very compelling tool,” says Dorman.
“But if you were flying it in a very narrow corridor, it wouldn’t work very well.”
To take a picture of a drone using a camera with a low resolution, you need a much higher resolution camera, which can’t be built in large quantities.
And there’s also the issue of what the resolution of the video camera actually is.
Drones with cameras that are less than 1 megapixel (mm) can’t capture the video of a helicopter.
So you need to use a much larger camera that can capture images at a higher resolution.
“The resolution of a camera is dependent on how far away you are from the camera,” says Chris Juhasz, director at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
“If you’re flying a helicopter, the resolution is much smaller.”
For example, a GoPro camera is about 4 megapixels (mm).
“The GoPro cameras have really low resolutions, so they’re not great at capturing wildlife,” says Juhassz.
“They have very small pixels, and they’re also quite small.”
But there are still plenty of reasons why a drone can be useful for filming wildlife.
“It’s pretty simple, really,” says John Sartor, the founder and CEO of DroneTaker.
“It’s really cheap to build, and you can actually fly it without a lot [of] the risk of something going wrong.”
In the case of a small drone, there’s the cost of building it.
But with a larger drone, Sartors company will build the drone in-house.
And, since the drone has to be bigger than a car, you can put a lot more sensors into the drone to capture data.
“If I were to build a big drone, I would probably go with something like the Phantom 3, which is about 20 times the size of a car,” says Sartore.
“But it’s still very much a prototype.”
That’s because drones are not yet powerful enough to take pictures at such a high-resolution, and with a large amount of sensor and cameras in it, it’s possible that drones won’t be able to capture images of everything that’s in a scene.
“That’s where drone photography becomes interesting,” says Jason Bowers, the CEO of drone camera company Aerial Vision.
“Because it’s really easy to scale it up to a drone that can actually capture that level of detail.”
Bowers says that his company is planning to build drones that are larger and bigger, so that they can capture more and more detail, like the way a car’s interior might look.
But Bowers acknowledges that drone photography is still very experimental.
“There’s a big gap between the capabilities of the technology and the technology that we’re able to produce,” says Bowers.
“And the technology we’re using is still relatively new.”
But drones are becoming more and the sky is the limit, says Bower.
“I think that we’ll be able in a few years to fly a drone at higher resolutions, which could be huge.”
If you like this article, please share it with your friends using the buttons below: