Drones were the topic of a recent Cool Café at the University of Akron. For some, the word drones produces a negative reaction. But, Professor Schuller visited with our group of teens and discussed how drones are used in every industry and the many opportunities available for students to work with or work on drones in the future. In fact, the Surveying Department at the University of Akron has seen an increase in employer contacts recently. Companies from across the United States are eager to hire drone specialists for a variety of good-paying positions. Students who earn a license to operate a drone are in high demand. Drones are used to inspect structures, map out areas, monitor plant and wildlife, survey, and even make deliveries. They can be used to evaluate the corrosion under a bridge. They can be used to monitor a farmer’s crop field determining need for water, pesticide or fertilizer to help produce a greater yield. They are used to investigate unknown territory or terrain. They are used for conservation efforts of both plants and animals. There are many laws associated with earning a license to fly drones. Advantages and disadvantages of drone technology were discussed.
There are many places to buy a drone, but you can make your own. My Drone Lab will show you how to build a drone from scratch.
If you are interested in drones and are thinking of purchasing one, be informed. The FAA website on drones provides the following Safety Guidelines:
- Fly at or below 400 feet
- Keep your UAS (aka unmanned aircraft system, aka drone) within sight
- Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports
- Never fly over groups of people
- Never fly over stadiums or sports events
- Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
- Never fly under the influence
- Be aware of airspace requirements
The FAA also has a great Frequently Asked Questions Page
Hands on Activity
Playing with Drones
For the hands on activity, students operated drones using computer simulation software. The drone could be flown in a variety of situations including day or night conditions, desert, industrial areas, over stadiums, through bridges, etc. The wind could be modified in both speed and direction. Students were taught to use a controller much like the one they would actually use in the field as a drone operator. The students who were the best gamers tended to successfully fly the drones more often than non-gamers. (How about that? All those years your mom said video games will never amount to anything, she was wrong!)
If you are interested in trying a drone simulator, check this out.