Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Useful Uses of Light Duty Drones

Small, light duty remotely controlled (RC) drones(1) that fly at a height between 20 and 200 ft. may perform a large number of useful tasks quickly and relatively cheaply. Here's a partial list of the things that can be done by a $5,000 multi-rotor drone that can lift 2 to 4 kg (4 to 10 lb):

Infrastructure Services (2)
  • Assess road and bridge surface condition with 3D mapping that is far easier than deploying expensive custom profilometers on specialized vehicles.
  • Inventory and condition of road and highway signs, signals, lane markings and barriers.
  • Remote assessment of tree growth, land slide slopes and condition, rock outcrops along highways.
  • Detailed external inspection of newly delivered projects such as roads, bridges, buildings, etc.
  • External inspection of pipelines.
  • Inspection of utility lines.
  • Harbor patrol and inspections for leaks, etc.
  • Area monitoring of air quality: traffic, chemical, other leaks.
  • Traffic management at the site of an incident with no or poor CCTV coverage.
  • Rapid regional land surveys and photogrammetry (i.e., centimeter accuracy GoogleEarth).
Commercial Services
  • Extra live capture of events such as surfing, racing, skiing and other sports where camera placement is challenging. (Example of 2013 RallyX near Honolulu.)
  • Real estate, architectural, promotional and educational videos.
  • Spraying of crops and fertilizers -- used in Japan for over 20 years; see picture above.
  • Wildlife monitoring and rounding of livestock.
  • Remote sensing for archaeology, minerals, other resources.
Security and Rescue Services
  • Police, security and similar quick-deployment surveillance that deploys from the trunk of a police vehicle, and supplements helicopter surveillance.
  • Remote sensing and discovery of lost hikers, avalanche victims, etc.
  • Quick emergency supply drop before "big help" can be mobilized, if necessary.
Small, private drone use may need to be regulated appropriately such as this example: Drones banned from Yosemite, other parks.

Notes (1): Some call them Personal UAVs -- (2): See additional discussion: Researchers Have High Hopes for Drone Use in Transportation


About ten times a year I send out my AIKEA FOR HONOLULU Newsletter in which I usually summarize some of my more important blogs.

I received over fifty responses for issue No. 35 which basically replicated the article below, Sopogy's Demise is a Huge Victory for Honest Engineering and the Taxpayer, including a response from past governor Ben Cayetano who wrote:

"Panos, I suggest you submit a condensed version as an Op-Ed to the Star.advertiser.  Mind boggling stuff.
Aloha, Ben"

Past University of Hawaii President and State DOT director Fuj Matsuda said:
"Thanks for the update:  I had heard that Sopogy was in trouble, but had no idea it was that  bad."

Also, the following response came from a well known person in the area of renewable installations in Hawaii. It reads as follows:

"Always appreciate your emails but couldn't keep myself from responding to this one in particular.

The entire sector has from its birth, been driven by pure "emotion".

Your mature, dispassionate, logical point of view on energy, rail, politics, waste and abuse are appreciated and far too rare.

From the 70's "Japan is taking over the world"and "we're out of oil"... To Y2k's "end of the USA as we know it" .. To today's message of "renewable energy AT ANY COST" ...

I've learned that everyone needs a life mission.  Unfortunately, choosing one's life mission is typically an emotional descision.

A couple more HOKU's from now, just on the other side of Hawaii's very own "Big Dig" (rail), people will be looking for a grownup to lead them, and remember Panos.

we need ya"


Thank you all for your support.  That's my "payment" and it's more than enough!