nanotech and drones

Nanotech To Boost Capabilities of Agriculture Drones

There is a more practical, accessible, and fun side to this nanotech world. Nanotechnology is being used in the drone/UAV industry to expand capabilities and reduce costs.

BestDroneForTheJob infographic


According to BestDroneForTheJob, drones and UAVs are being used today to increase productivity and reduce costs in a variety of industries including mining, real estate, agriculture, and aerial surveying

When people think of the intersection between nanotech and drones, they probably picture tiny little devices flying around like bugs on battlegrounds or running around your body –  like mechanical mosquitoes injecting into your bloodstream. This thinking is mostly still sci-fi used to scare people.

In the real world, nanotech is being used far more widely in the drone industry to reduce weight, to extend flight times and to make these useful robot helpers work harder – for us.

Why Is Nanotech Important in the World of Drones?

Nanotech means smaller forms of technology, as well as new materials, to improve performance. Therefore, it makes sense to develop these components for lightweight, small drones. UAVs are an essential part of many industries.

Companies across many major sectors now see the potential of this birds-eye-view. Drones take businesses to new heights – both figuratively and literally.

The more effective they are, they better the results. Better technology means that companies and developers can now use nanotech to improve the following:

The first benefit of nanotech in drones has enhanced the performance of the components within.  Improved flight times and lighter weights are a great starting point when using nanotech in drones. However, this isn’t that helpful if the drone is ineffective.

Ideally, developers need a long-running drone with the best possible equipment to handle the job. There are improvements to agricultural drones already with GPS mapping and route finding. This helps users to locate precise areas of need or treatment.

Operators employ smart drones for more than visual mapping and surveying. Many have specialist tools to deliver items and carry out remote tasks. For example, many in the agricultural industry now use crop-spraying drones. These devices target areas in need of pesticides.

This should mean a faster, effective way to deal with weeds remotely. It also offers greater protection to the crops. It is better than the old methods of tramlines and mist spraying.

Crop Angel in the UK provides interesting solutions for nanotech in agricultural drones.

Crop Angel in the UK

Source: Crop Angel

Here experts manipulate nanotech to improve the potency of the liquids and coverage. This means that a more powerful solution spreads over more crops during one single flight. Therefore, this should reduce the number of flights requires. In turn, this can cut down on time and overall running costs.

Crop Angel’s drones last no more than 15 minutes, longer than many commercial drones. But they still see this as a short window in which to cover a large area. This is where a combination of nanotech developments can help. For example, a new battery could improve those flight times.

Better battery lives and lighter weights mean longer flight times for agricultural drones.

One of the biggest problems with drone tech is the flight time. High-end models last considerably longer than small toy quadcopters. There is still room for improvement.

Time spent landing, swapping batteries and regaining a position is time wasted. Ideally, operators want a steady, controlled flight without interruptions. Increased battery life is the best place to start. There are new forms of nanotech and materials that can help.

Nano-nouvelle in Australia created graphene batteries that could help these agricultural drones further.

Graphene Battery

The graphene in these batteries lightens the weight and helps to increase the flight time. Their new batteries increase the storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries by up to 50%.

Therefore, a drone that flew for 10 minutes could then fly for 15. This is significant for many operations. This is especially true in industries surveying large areas with video mapping. This is a drain on the battery already, so any extra capacity help.

At the moment, companies may see short flights over the course of the afternoon. This might mean maps in a patchwork of generated images.

That extra 5 minutes could make all the difference to the distance traveled and data received. This could help when surveying land for mining, checking energy efficiency on high rise buildings or checking power lines.

Durability Of Drones

The durability of drones is another problem that operators must contend with. High-end drones are pretty well-built. Many should be able to avoid damage in light crashes.

There is always that concern that they might not survive the worst accidents. This could be a catastrophe regarding productivity and costs.

Nanocoatings could help by strengthening components, without adding too much weight. There is also a risk of damage in bad weather and adverse temperatures.

Some drones weren’t built for wet conditions and icy temperatures. There is the risk that the cold and moisture could damage the mechanisms and functions of the drone. Again, the right nanocoating could help.

HeatCoat might provide the answer for better drone protection.

Source: Battelle Innovations

HeatCoat is a clever nanocoating from the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio. This is a smart, high-conductivity coating with a nanotube heating system. This minute coating should reduce ice accumulation at high altitude and reduce the heating needs of aircraft.

At the moment, this concept centers around airplanes. However, there is also the idea that designers could use this on drones too in colder climates. Any protection during Arctic surveying is welcome if it saves money and person-hours.

This is just the start of nanotech in drones. The best is yet to come.

Nanotechnology is a big part of the modern world. It makes sense that we would see a lot more of it in the drones. The expansion of drones into industries like surveying and agriculture means a need for better tech.

Nanotech is the best approach for a longer-lasting, more capable drone – one that is still light and operable. The smart sprayers of Crop Angels, the graphene batteries, and new nanocoatings increase the potential. As nanotechnology gets smarter, so will the drones.

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