Brief History of Drones

What we commonly refer to as a drone is a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), meaning an aircraft that flies without a human pilot on board, controlled either by an onboard system or a ground-based computer operator.
While drones are now extensively used in different fields, they were initially developed for military purposes. The first attempts at drone usage can be traced back to World War I, but it was between the two World Wars that engineering solutions for converting aircraft into remotely piloted vehicles were developed for military applications.
In Italy, the development of drone technology received a significant boost starting in the 1960s, and the first model of drone used by the Italian army was the CL-89, which was only retired around the 2000s and was developed in collaboration with Canadair.
Since the year 2000, drones have increasingly been employed in non-military sectors, such as agriculture monitoring, power line and pipeline inspections, emergency response, and aerial photogrammetry.
In the field of Non-Destructive Testing, drones have found extensive use and have experienced significant development and performance improvements, offering immediate advantages by enabling surveys in challenging or hazardous environments and providing accurate and reliable information.

What is a Drone and What are Drones Used For

So, what is a drone, and what are drones used for?
A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) that is employed in various fields, including:

  • Environmental: for monitoring the territory
  • Security: for insurance investigations, damage estimation
  • Industrial: for production process monitoring
  • Civil: for surveys of civil structures’ condition
  • Agriculture: for crop monitoring
  • Archaeology: for surveys of historical and cultural sites
  • Geology, geomatics, geodesy, and topography
  • Monitoring of energy infrastructure

The main types of drones are:

  • Aerial drones
  • Ground drones
  • Water drones

Aerial drones are the most common type and can be divided into ground-piloted drones and programmable flight plan drones.
Ground drones can be equipped with cameras and are used in military applications for surveillance of military areas, as well as in civilian environments for subsurface monitoring (GPR) and capable of providing lidar scans and 3D models.
Water drones can submerge in water or navigate on the surface and are used in various land control and monitoring activities. They can be autonomous and provide real-time images and data (UAV) or remotely piloted.

Drone Surveys

Among the various types of drone surveys, aerial photogrammetry is widely and effectively employed.
Photogrammetry allows obtaining metric data of a particular object, such as shape and position. Drones used for photogrammetric surveys allow technicians to capture aerial photographs that can be used for generating depth maps, point clouds, and 3D models.
Drone photogrammetry provides highly detailed information, ensuring precise and reliable surveys, and allows for quick intervention, optimizing operations in terms of time and cost compared to other solutions.

Want to know more?

If you want to have more information about Novatest products and services for drones professionals, fill out the form with your request!

LiDAR Surveys with Drones

The combination of drone technology and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology has delivered excellent results and significant advantages in the surveying industry. Drones equipped with LiDAR sensors ensure the acquisition of all elements present in a surveyed site, providing an accurate reconstruction of the surveyed environment.
The combination of 3D laser scanning (LiDAR) and drones offers the following advantages:

  • Precision
  • Acquisition speed
  • Comprehensive data capture
  • Material survey
  • Real-time 3D visualization
  • Post-processing capabilities for topographic analysis, 3D modeling, and BIM (Building Information Modeling).

Among photogrammetry and LiDAR, professionals increasingly choose LiDAR technology for its effectiveness, accuracy, precision, and superior performance in specific operational scenarios compared to traditional photogrammetry.

Georadar Surveys with Drones

In the fields of geodesy, topography, geophysics, and civil engineering, the combination of drones and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) allows professionals to safely perform a range of surveying, inspection, control, and monitoring activities in otherwise hazardous conditions for humans.
Georadar surveys with drones, utilizing GPR technology, enable obtaining detailed information about anomalies or particular subsurface features. The combined use of drones and GPR finds multiple applications in architecture, archaeology, and risk monitoring activities.

Drones for Precision Agriculture

A particular application area for drone technology is precision agriculture or agriculture 4.0.
Precision agriculture is an innovative approach that optimizes agricultural production while respecting the characteristics and properties of the land. By utilizing advanced technologies, precision agriculture enables constant monitoring of agricultural areas, preventing losses and allowing for continuous control of crop health.
Drones for precision agriculture, also known as agricultural drones, are equipped with small-sized platforms that facilitate flight even in dense vegetation and provide highly accurate information, data, and imagery. The use of agricultural drones has yielded excellent results in terms of yield optimization, control, and reduction of environmental impact. It is a technology that aligns with the current need to achieve maximum efficiency while minimizing resource waste.

Do you need consulting or support?

Fill out the form with your details specifying what you need in the request type section. Our team is at your disposal to find the best solution to you needs.