Mini drones are leading the way when it comes to monitoring the environment.

Mini Drones Could Predict the Weather and Save Lives

Over the past few months, we’ve highlighted several excellent manuscripts published in Drones. Now, we’re sharing innovative research about mini drones.

We’ve already explained how drones are used to monitor shark activity, promote climate justice, and study wildlife. But, mini drones have different uses.

Let’s look at what they are, and how this new research is helping us learn more about the natural world.

What Are Mini Drones?

They are small UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). Notably, they’re significantly smaller than the drones used to study wildlife.

Mini drones vs. micro drones

There are also micro drones, which are even smaller.

They can be as small as insects, because they don’t include cameras or any other fancy equipment. They’re primarily used by amateur hobbyists.

Because of their comparatively small batteries, micro drones also have much shorter flight times.

Mini drone uses

  • Military mini drones

Thanks to their small size, they can stealthily get footage of hard-to-reach places. This kind of surveillance can help in areas like military planning.

  • Commercial mini drones

Anybody interested in drones can start with mini ones. They’re usually cheaper, and often come equipped with cameras.

  • Photography mini drones

Professional photographers and amateurs alike are using them to take photos in remote locations and from above. This enhances photography and opens up new possibilities.

  • Security mini drones

They can protect people by monitoring public areas. In this way, they can alert emergency services to dangerous situations.

  • Agricultural mini drones

In industry, they’re used to monitor the crop situation, but also to eliminate harmful insects.

  • Environmental mini drones

They can help us learn more about the world around us and monitor changes as they happen, such as changes in the weather, increases in pollution, and changes in the underwater ecosystem.

New Research

In October 2022, two scholars published a remarkable manuscript on mini drones in Drones. The research was a collaborative effort between Prof Jun Inoue and Prof Kazutoshi Sato, of National Institute of Polar Research, and Kitami Institute of Technology, respectively.

In short, the pair attached an anemometer to a mini drone to measure wind speed.

What are anemometers?

Anemometers are devices used to measure the wind; how fast it is, and in what direction it’s going. However, they had never been combined with drones until this innovative study.

An anemometer, which can be attached to mini drones.

An example of an air velocity meter, commonly known as an anemometer.

The weather is a critical part of our environment. Furthermore, predicting the weather is important not only for industrial planning but also for our safety.

Industries such as agriculture and energy production require information about wind speed and direction. Imagine having a wind turbine but being unable to harness the wind because you don’t know the most effective position.

Likewise, imagine never knowing when the wind will be strong enough to push water onto land.

This is where anemometers and mini drones come in. They are vital to our understanding of the natural world and what’s going on at any given moment. They can help us improve conditions in industry and save lives on the coast. But being able to use them at greater heights could expand their capabilities even further.

Drones and thermal anemometers

A thermal anemometer is a special type of anemometer. It measures the relationship between heat transfer and velocity to determine air velocity.

This particular type of anemometer is ideal because it is as light as a feather, meaning it can sit atop small UAVs without weighing them down and compromising their function. Meanwhile, they’re also relatively cheap, making them viable for different industries, no matter the funding.

The results of this study are extremely promising. The drones detected wind speed and movement extremely accurately.

Mini drones therefore present an outstanding opportunity for innovation. Basically, there is limitless potential when it comes to what they can monitor and achieve.

Find out more about drones by taking a look at our article on drones for climate justice.

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