Drones are now more than just toy flying machines; the drones currently available to consumers are flying computers with exceptional 3D computation and application support capabilities. The growing hardware capacity has opened up the possibilities so that drones are now flying software platforms with the real value contained in the software.
Flying platforms offer some exciting opportunities for anyone interested in collecting data because they have surpassed the point of having merely adequate processing power long ago. The current state-of-the-art drones contain processors with capabilities far beyond those needed for basic flight alone.
The Scope Of Drone Utility
What would have previously required helicopters, or at the very least, light aircraft, to collect data at the cost of thousands of dollars, is now available to small businesses and individuals to do with as they see fit. Consumer drones are the latest example of innovative technology disrupting paradigms that were previously the exclusive domains of big enterprise and government agencies. The possibilities include professional photography and video services, remote sensing platforms such as aerial mapping and agricultural data gathering.
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Drones support industry and emergency services by performing physical infrastructure inspections; they can assist in disaster recovery by creating temporary telecoms platforms such as cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots. Given enough power to lift moderately sized payloads, drones can perform remote location package deliveries, either for emergency aid or commercial delivery.
Flying Data Collection Platforms
Data collection is arguably the most valuable contribution from commercially available drones because they have the capacity to collect and retain large volumes of information. Like the Internet of Things, drones push network capabilities out to the edge. Flying robots put sensor packages in new places and return data from new perspectives. App Development for drones requires the same skill-set as developing apps for other applications, with the additional device-specific knowledge.
Like other modern digital devices, drones can use sensors and navigation aids such as inertial sensors and GPS; they can operate on the same open source operating systems such as Android and Linux. So building apps for drones is a specialization from mobile app design. A drone is an airborne platform with similar capabilities to tablets and smartphones with additional features relating to moving in three dimensions.
Developers write software for drones in languages such as C and C++ to take advantage of the flexible low-level control these languages provide. Developers also create applications in Java and Python to make use of higher-level functions. Whether it is building the controller app to monitor activity from a digital device or putting the software into the drone to operate the vehicle and attached sensors the technical challenge is practically the same.
Accessible Airborne Platforms For Your App Ideas
Understanding why you might wish to build apps for drones is at least as compelling as how to do it. Once you know how to design and develop software, you’re likely to find uses for your app-building skills. Small and cheap commercially available drones are an exciting new class of platforms that give a new perspective on data for instruments and sensors, limited only by the imaginations of people who have the enthusiasm to exploit them.