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The Benefits and Challenges of UAVs

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Benefits and Challenges of UAVs

Classification of UAVs

Classification of Drones by Size

Large Size Drones

These drones are used in the attack, combat and reconnaissance roles. Large size UAVs can fly to a very long distance without recharging or refueling. Large attack systems can carry missiles that can be fired remotely after observing and locking in the target. Reconnaissance UAVs are used to observe and secure a very large area.

Medium Size Drones

This range of drones is generally used in reconnaissance or to gather data. Such units are deployed in military, commercial, industrial and agricultural fields.

Small Size Drones

These drones are the most widely used units. UAVs of this size are used by commercial establishments, government departments, professional photographers and hobbyists.

Miniature Drones

These units are used for very specific purpose. Miniature drones have been developed for military usage. The device is small enough to fit in the palm. Military personnel use it for spying during a close combat mission. It can be used to view the inside of a standing or damaged building during search and rescue operations.

Classification by Design

Aircraft Design

This type of UAV has propeller on the tail or nose. Some wing design units have propellers on the wings. Jet propulsion is also used in large UAVs. There are small units that can be launched even from hand but larger units require a small runway to get off the ground. The advantage of this design is that this type of UAV consumes lower amount of energy compared to UAV with tilt rotor design.

Tilt Rotor Design

This type of UAV is also called quadcopter because of use of four rotors for lift and propulsion. It can lift off and land anywhere in the same way as a helicopter. These UAVs are the most widely used units due to ease of launching and landing. There is no need of runway or catapult to launch the aircraft.

Classification by Usage

Military

UAVs have been used widely in attack and combat roles. Military use of drones includes reconnaissance and observation from the sky. Cargo drones are used to supply weapons and cargo to the military units.

Commercial

There are a wide range of commercial applications of drones. A camera equipped drone is used to map an area. It helps know if the proposed construction site is suitable for construction of a particular structure. UAV is used in commercial sector to take photos and videos of buildings, construction sites and ground areas. Real estate developers use such photos and videos to advertise their building projects.

Agricultural

Farmers use drones to spray pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals. Special camera and sensors are used to spot problems in the crops. Diseased parts of the crop can be spotted early. Different types of data related to the farm, crop, land and atmospheric conditions can be collected. This data is used to ensure healthy crop and successful harvest.

Police

Law enforcement agencies use drones to fight crimes. They use it for surveillance of a suspected target. Real time surveillance is useful during active crime scenes where sending the police personnel without knowing the ground situation can be dangerous.

3D Mapping

Advance 3D imaging equipment installed in a drone is used to survey landscape. Thousands of high quality images are stitched together to create precise and high definition 3D map of a ground area. It gives a better understanding of the geographical features of the area.

Disaster Relief

It is difficult to know the magnitude of destruction immediately after a disaster. There is urgent need to find the ground information quickly. Sending search and rescue teams to such an area without prior knowledge of ground conditions may result in waste of precious time. A UAV helps know exact locations where help is needed.

Hunting Hurricane

Drones equipped with scientific equipment are used to observe storms and other natural disasters. The data collected and analyzed from such operations are used to develop predictive models that help predict an impending disaster with better accuracy.

Product Delivery

This type of commercial venture is yet to take off due to regulatory constraints. However, many companies are working actively in this field. It is going to be a lucrative field for the sellers of products.

Research and Development

Scientists use drones to gather different types of data related to the ground, sea and air. They can find useful data without sending several teams to the target locations. Accurate scientific data from various locations can be collected quickly and easily.

Reconnaissance

UAVs are now used widely to protect border areas from intruders. It helps gather intelligence information in the battlefield. The information proves useful in protecting borders, combat units and security installations. Military personnel can avoid high risk missions or go to such missions with better information of the ground situation

General Users

Hobbyists use small size drones for recreational purposes. These units are used to enjoy the thrill of flying an aircraft. Now many UAVs made for general users have camera to take photos and videos. Some new UAV models can follow the moving drone pilot. There are strict drone flying rules and regulations that hobbyist drone operators must know.

There are various problems, issues and challenges associated with UAVs. It is difficult to regulate flying of small drones. Thousands of small drones are sold every year. These products are available easily online and offline. A small drone can be built even by a novice using easily available parts from the Internet. Even a small drone poses high safety risks to large planes and ground installations like fuel depots. There are occasional instances where operators lose control of their UAV during the flight. There have been no serious accidents so far but there are many reports of criminals using drones to supply illegal and banned items into prisons. The insurance aspect is not fully defined and developed. There are privacy risks to people. Drones can fly high and record visible parts of a private property. It can be used to look inside homes through windows.

Government authorities have been trying to overcome these challenges with proper regulations. There are many rules and regulations for UAV ownership and operations and law enforcement agencies are already using different technologies to stop rogue UAVs. The options include signal jamming as well as capturing and attacking to bring down the rogue UAVs.

The drone industry is also advancing at a rapid pace. Large numbers of UAVs are being sold and used all around the world, and the market for military drones is expected to exceed $10 billion by 2017. Private UAV sales are expected to cross $82 billion in the first 10 years. At the same time, the drone industry is expected to generate more than 100,000 jobs. Use of such technologies help improve living conditions. There are benefits and challenges in use of UAVs. Governments are trying to keep pace with these developments by framing proper rules and regulations.

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ISRO Develops “Solar Calculator” Android App

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Computation of solar energy potential is essential to select the locations for solar photovoltaic (PV) thermal power plants. The use of remote sensing observations from geostationary satellite sensors is ideal to capture space-time variability of surface insolation. An android App for the computation of solar energy potential has been developed by Space Applications Centre (SAC), ISRO, Ahmedabad at the behest of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Govt. of India. It is a very useful tool for installation of PV solar panels for tapping solar energy.

The App provides monthly/yearly solar potential (in kWh/m2) and minimum/maximum temperature at any location. It also displays the location on the satellite image and provides azimuth/elevation angles as well as day length over different time periods in a year.

Following are the major features of the App:

  • The App provides solar energy potential (in kWh/m2) at any given location.
  • The required location can be keyed in or can be obtained through GPS.
  • It gives monthly and yearly solar potential processed using Indian Geostationary Satellite data (Kalpana-1, INSAT-3D, and INSAT-3DR). It also offers monthly minimum and maximum temperature to calculate realistic solar potential.
  • The location is displayed on the image with satellite data in the background.
  • It also provides azimuth and elevation angles, and day length over different time periods in a year.
  • Obstruction of sunlight due to terrain is also calculated using Digital Elevation Model (DEM).
  • It also suggests optimum tilt angle for solar PV installation.
  • This App needs an internet connection to calculate the results.
  • The complete report can be saved as a PDF file.

 

The App can be downloaded from “New and Renewable Energy” section at vedas.sac.gov.in

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Survey of India Launches Web Portal to Download Maps

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The Survey of India (SOI) has launched new web portal called Nakshe to make open series maps available to Indians for free.

Organization : Survey of India (SOI)
Headquarters: Dehradun
Founder: East India Company
Founded: 1767

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The portal was launched by Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Harsh Vardhan on the occasion of 250th anniversary of SOI.

Features of Nakshe Portal

It will offer a free download of 3,000 Topographic maps or Open Series Maps (OSM) in a pdf format on 1:50,000 scale through Aaadhar enabled user authentication process. The maps are meant for development activities in the country and can be also used to plan scientific expeditions, research, and planning development projects. Topographic maps or OSM comprise natural and man-made geographical features including terrain or topography.

The SoI has a rich collection of over 5,000 maps. While it made 3,000 maps open to the public for download, 1700 will be available for downloading soon. The remaining maps are awaiting clearance. Under the National Map Policy 2005, it had become necessary to make non-defence maps accessible for public. “Earlier, even government departments had to pay some amount to get the maps from Survey of India. We have relaxed that norm now,” Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, the ministry of Science and Technology, said. Harsh Vardhan said the SoI is also awaiting clearance from Nepal to measure the height of Mt. Everest post-2015 earthquake.
About Survey of India (SOI)
SOI is the principal mapping agency of the country. It comes under the Department of Science & Technology. Its origin can be traced back to The year 1767, making it oldest scientific department in India and one of the oldest survey establishments in the world. It prepares maps for defense and civilian purposes and is considered a standard reference for the shape, extent and geographic features of the country. SOI has surveyed and mapped each and every part of the country and these maps have played a valuable role in nation building and were pivotal in almost all major developmental activities of modern India.

Note: Foundation for the scientific survey and mapping of the country was laid with The Great Trigonometric Survey (GTS) in the 19th century on 10th April 1802, by noted surveyors Col. Lambton and Sir George Everest. Interestingly, Everest has been named after former Surveyor General of India Col Sir George Everest. The measurement of the world’s highest peak has been made by the SoI.

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Nakshe Portal

NASA Releases Software Catalog, Free Access to Technologies for Earthly Applications

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NASA has released its 2017-2018 software catalog, which offers an extensive portfolio of software products for a wide variety of technical applications, all free of charge to the public, without any royalty or copyright fees.

Available in both hard copy and online, this third edition of the publication has contributions from all the agency’s centers on data processing/storage, business systems, operations, propulsion, and aeronautics. It includes many of the tools NASA uses to explore space and broaden our understanding of the universe. A number of software packages are being presented for release for the first time. Each catalog entry is accompanied with a plain language description of what it does.

“The software catalog is our way of supporting the innovation economy by granting access to tools used by today’s top aerospace professionals to entrepreneurs, small businesses, academia, and industry,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington. “Access to these software codes has the potential to generate tangible benefits that create American jobs, earn revenue and save lives.”

The new NASA Software Catalog includes the code LEWICE, developed to help study the effects of ice on an aircraft in flight.

NASA published the first edition of its software catalog in April 2014, becoming the first comprehensive listing of publicly available software to be compiled by a federal government agency — the largest creator of custom code. Since then, NASA has shared thousands of its software programs with students, industry, individuals and other government agencies.

“Software has been a critical component of each of NASA’s mission successes and scientific discoveries. In fact, more than 30 percent of all reported NASA innovations are software,” said Dan Lockney, NASA’s Technology Transfer program executive. “We’re pleased to transfer these tools to other sectors and excited at the prospect of seeing them implemented in new and creative ways.” (The new NASA Software Catalog includes the code LEWICE, developed to help study the effects of ice on an aircraft in flight and to help create ice detection systems. Credits: NASA)

Some of the software available include codes for more advanced drones, and quieter aircraft. While access restrictions apply to some codes, NASA has automated and updated its software release process over the last two years to ensure that it is as quick, easy and straightforward as possible.

The software catalog is a product of NASA’s Technology Transfer program, managed for the agency by STMD. The program ensures technologies developed for missions in exploration and discovery are broadly available to the public, maximizing the benefit to the nation.

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NASA’s Software Website

Software Catalog

India’s First Nationwide Digital Address System – eLoc

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[eLoc by MapmyIndia is the Aadhar of Addresses A Digital Address is necessary for a Digital India!]

MapmyIndia, India’s leader in premium-quality digital maps, GPS navigation, GPS tracking, location-based apps and GIS solutions, today announced the release of MapmyIndia eLoc, India’s first Nationwide Digital Address. This powerful innovation, packaged as a simple and easy-to-use digital address, will transform historical addresses and disrupt traditional mapping and navigation services, bringing immense convenience to individuals and significant benefits to businesses and governments across India.

(Image Source : http://www.mapmyindia.com/eloc/)

eLoc will help Indian travelers and commuters search, share and navigate to destinations’ exact doorstep far more easily and quickly. It will also reduce time, money, fuel wastage and expenses for businesses in the e-commerce, transportation, logistics and field operations domains. Finally, governance at all levels, across urban and rural levels, will be empowered with much more productivity and transparency when it comes to civic amenities delivery such as electricity, water, gas as well as property tax administration and tax evasion detection.

What is eLoc?

eLoc by MapmyIndia is simply put, the Aadhaar of addresses. eLoc of any place, be it a building/flat/office/business/city/village/locality/road and so on, is a short, 6 character code (for e.g. 8GDTYX, or MMI000), which is easy to remember, share, type and provide.Behind the convenience and simplicity of eLoclies the huge power of India’s most comprehensive, accurate and precise door-step level, 3D, digital map database and turn-by-turn navigation solution built by MapmyIndia. Hence, the power of eLoc is such that when a person, business or official searches for a place by entering its eLoc, they can see the precise map location of that place, get turn-by-turn directions to the exact entrance doorstep of that place, and also see information about that place besides its location, such as reviews, photos and other information provided by the place’s owner, businesses and governments. More information on what is an eLoc, how it works, and how one can access, use and share a place’s eloc is available at http://www.mapmyindia.com/eloc

2017-02-19

MapmyIndia has privately invested over 200 crores over the last 20+ years in advanced mapping technologies and professional field surveys to create India’s most comprehensive digital address database, as a result of which over 2 crore and counting eLocs, across all 7000+ urban towns and 6+ lakh villages in rural India, are already readily available for individual, business and government users to use instantly, for free. This nulls the need for significant future investment by public and private entities in creation of a digital map and address database. For new places that come up, or those that change or shut, or those missing in MapmyIndia’s database, users can add them by visiting http://maps.mapmyindia.com on their browser or by using the MapmyIndia mobile app across Android, iOS and Windows platforms, and MapmyIndia will continue to professionally verify and validate those contributions.

Those interested in learning more about eLoc by MapmyIndia, checking the eLoc of places they care about like their home, office, or other destinations they need to visit, as well as those interested in partnering with MapmyIndia to bring the benefits of eLoc to everyone, should visit http://www.mapmyindia.com/eloc

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Explore Maps

Braille Atlas for Visually Impaired

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The Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan released the Special Edition of “Atlas for Visually Impaired (India)” in English Braille today in New Delhi. This Braille Atlas has been prepared by National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO) under Department of Science & Technology.

Image result for braille world atlas

(Image Source : Google)

The Minister expressed happiness at the production of these Atlases. He said these atlases will be distributed to various schools across the country for educating the students with visual challenges.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that all departments of Government will work to implement this. Efforts are being made to make these atlases more cost effective than the current price of Rs.600/- per atlas with 20 maps now. Silk screen printing used to prepare these atlases is unique to India, he added.

In the Braille Atlas, maps are raised and embossed with simple lines and point symbols to facilitate its users to realize the location and area coverage easily distinguishable in terms of shapes and textures. The legend and reference is placed on the map in Braille script to navigate the map. About 20 maps on different themes of physical, socio-economic and cultural aspects such as river system, natural vegetation, Metropolitan cities, Roads and Railways, Food crops and cash crops have been incorporated in the atlas with write-ups on every map as ready reference. This Atlas has been bestowed with National award for S&T intervention in empowering the physically challenged by the Prime Minister on 3rd January, 2017 in Indian Science Congress held in Tirupati.

NATMO has recently walked ahead to prepare Braille atlases for visually impaired persons. NATMO’s long effort from metallic tactile maps to silk-screen printing technology to prepare a full volume of atlas is perhaps unique in the World. NATMO’s aim is to transmit scientific information in the form of maps and atlases in a cost-effective manner, as more than 50 lakh visually challenged citizens of our country are mainly from low-income group. Till date their knowledge is constrained within books and literatures. Enriched with this experience, they will be able to understand the Indian geographical contours and will be empowered with wealth of knowledge.

National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO) is the premier agency of applied Geo-Spatial technology and pioneer in Thematic Mapping and Atlas Cartography under Department of Science & Technology(Ministry of Science & Technology) engaged in preparing different thematic maps and atlases and other documents on national, state, district, block level and many other monograms. The contribution made by NATMO in developing the thematic maps/ data is being regularly used by the decision makers in the entire country at districts and sub-divisions levels for implementing the developmental schemes as well as by the researchers, students and common people.

Source – Press Information Bureau

NATMO Reference

BRICS Nations Agreed to share spatial data from Remote Sensing satellite

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Member nations of the five-nation group BRICS have agreed to share spatial data on natural resources from their remote-sensing satellites.

The move is geared towards making optimal use of space assets. According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) officials the nations will be exchanging data, including images of natural resources. Though only four of them – Brazil, Russia, India and China have remote-sensing satellites in the sun-synchronous orbit, they will give data to South Africa (SA) as it does not have a satellite of its own. Top space officials of BRICS met at the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Scientific and Technical Subcommittee’s 54th session at Vienna in Austria from January 30 to February 10.

Through this particular agreement, BRICS will be able to share the resources and bring developing nations under the umbrella of space, opening possibilities of using excess capacities in the satellites. As the BRIC satellites spin around the earth in lower orbit, capturing enormous data on the planet and its resources in each country, they will share it in real time for mutual benefit.

India plans to use its Resourcesat-2A, launched on December 7 from its spaceport Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, as part of its earth observation satellite for remote sensing data services to global users.

Going forward, the space agencies of the BRICS nations plan to share similar data for tele-education, tele-medicine and a host of societal applications, utilising the excess capacity of their respective satellites for their mutual benefit.

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