UAVs can make life easier and safer for the people and companies who are responsible for maintenance of bridges, power lines, buildings, towers and the like. A drone can easily fly over the roof or under a bridge to check the conditions and assess the need for maintenance and repairs. Signs of ageing or corrosion can be detected conveniently and without having to endanger technicians climbing to difficult places to do the checking. Drones can also fly to check high places e.g. towers much faster than the technician can climb there. A drone can also assist the personnel doing repairs and maintenance in very high towers or other difficult to reach places by flying the needed tool or spare part to the technician. Less time used in climbing means saving in time and operating costs.
At times when people need help, maybe lost and possibly injured, a single autonomous UAV can be the thing that saves their lives. Much cheaper and easier to operate, UAVs with IR cameras can locate the people in need during day and night. Also in disaster areas getting up-to-date information is essential to find and save the people who have been stranded. UAVs can even deliver medical supplies, water cleaning tablets, or emergency ratios to the people in desperate need.
In a forest fire, a large building fire, or after an earthquake the firefighters and rescue teams need information and have to locate trapped people without endangering firefighters or SAR personnel. Drones can go where people cannot. They can help in checking areas, providing a bird's eye view, or they can even enter buildings in danger of collapsing.
In the past it was necessary to use helicopters to get aerial footage. UAVs can do it at a fraction of the cost, and in a way that simply is not possible for the helicopter. The smaller size of UAVs means they can safely go closer to the action then a helicopter ever could. In suitable occasions drones can even fly between the actors or performers without disturbing or endangering them.
Law enforcement officers often are confronted by situations where they need to see inside a dangerous area. Simply walking in may get officers injured or worse. UAVs can provide the much needed situational awareness without having to put people's lives at risk. Streaming video feed from a UAV is an invaluable tool in this kind of situations. The video feed can also be taken with an IR camera or an image intensifier hence providing a night vision capability for the drone.
In a crowd control situation seeing in real time what is happening from a bird's eye view helps command-and-control make better and more informed decisions. Risks to public safety can be recognized earlier and threatening situations can be defused before they get out of hand. Video or pictures from a UAV can also be very useful for investigations, as they show the big picture. They can also provide evidence by showing an overhead view of a crime scene in multiple spectrums or by measuring the scene with laser sensors or image based measurement systems.
Drones can provide aerial surveillance for perimeters in a cost effective way. No need for a helicopter or a pilot, an autopiloted drone equipped with motion tracking sensors can do the work. It can take pictures or video and trigger alerts in an intelligent way, as image recognition algorithms can filter out the false alerts and recognize the potential threats. UAVs can add a layer of security for important sites, VIP visits, top level meetings, public events etc.
UAV's equipped with IR or multispectral cameras are very cost effective and convenient tools for providing information to help improve yield from crops or forests. NIR images show much more than what can be seen with naked eye. Healthy plants reflect NIR in a different way than infested or diseased plants, and also soil's NIR reflectance and transmittance depends e.g. on soil's moisture level. As a result it's possible to use NVDI indexes, see where the crops are healthy, where and when more irrigation or fertilization is needed, when is the right time to harvest the crops or cut the trees and even possible to detect pest infestations which threaten to decrease the yield.
A UAV can be equipped with a multitude of cameras or sensors. Putting gas sensors onboard a UAV gives the ability to measure emissions or detect leaks. Detecting and finding the leaks from large industrial areas is time consuming and requires a lot of manpower, but an autonomous drone can do the task much easier and faster. When the sensors detect abnormal gas levels the drone triggers an alert and engineers and technicians can go directly to the right area without having to comb through miles and miles of pipes in order to find the leak.