This is a question that used to be restricted to answers related to military unmanned aeroplanes used for reconnaissance and tactical strikes.
However the technology has grown and moved into the commercial sector and even the consumer market where enthusiastic flight hobbiest can now purchase more basic drones from model stores and even toy stores.
A drone is fundamentally an unmanned vehicle. At Balmore, we provide drones for both aerial and underwater inspection services so we have both Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) that are used for underwater inspection and surveys.
But even within these two clearly defined inspection sectors, there are multiple drone designs that are best used for specific services. So in the UAV drone inspection sector, we provide services for powerline inspection that requires specialised commercial drones that can operate close to powerlines without being disturbed by any signal disturbance and we also operate confined spaces drones that can be navigated down dark, narrow piping and air shafts that are either too small or too dangerous for a human to enter.
Drones have become a cost effective and powerful tool that has been widely adopted by Military across the globe (most famously by the US Military) but has completely transformed the inspection industry for Oil & Gas, Wind, Infrastructure and Utilities Sectors.
Using an offshore wind turbine as an example. An inspection of a wind turbine once required a high access team and safety crew along with a team of deep sea divers, their equipment and safety support vehicles.
With drones, we can now inspect the wind turbine blades quickly and effortlessly from multiple angles and distances and then conduct an underwater inspection of the wind turbine underwater powerlines using our ROV. This can all be conducted quickly, easily and safely with better results that those gathered by traditional inspection methods.
So to answer the question ‘What’s a drone?’
It is an unmanned remotely controlled device that is changing the way that inspection and survey services are conducted – for the better!