|An AeroVironment Puma AE, front, and Raven small unmanned |
aircraft systems are displayed at the AeroVironment stand during
Farnborough International Air Show, Farnborough, England,
Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
The next big thing in aviation may be really small. With some no bigger than a hummingbird, the hottest things at this week's Farnborough International Airshow are tiny compared with the titans of the sky, such as the Airbus 380 or the Boeing Dreamliner.
What's got aviation geeks salivating at Farnborough, this year's biggest aviation jamboree that features participants from 40 countries, are the commercial possibilities of unmanned aerial vehicles - drones to most of us.
Drones are more commonly known for their use in conflict areas. This week Hamas launched for the first time an unmanned drone into Israeli airspace that was shot down.
But drones, which can weigh less than an ounce, have potential commercial applications that are vast. The industry, military and non-military, is growing and could according to some see investments of nearly $90 billion over the next ten years.
Experts say they can be adapted to fly over fields to determine when crops need watering, fly into clouds in hopes of offering more precise predictions on twisters, track endangered rhinos, spot wildfires and search out vast stretches of land for missing children.
And like the dawn of the era of aviation a little over a century ago, innovations are often being conducted by individuals with an idea and endless enthusiasm. They won't find it easy though as the big players in the markets, such as Boeing and Airbus, are also getting involved.
A lot of the research has been taking place in big flat places such as the Plains States, where a broad expanse of land combines with universities near military bases with air space exclusions to make research possible.
Where California had Silicon Valley to drive its high-tech industries, America's central belt from North Dakota to Texas could become a new research and commercial center for the aviation industry - the Silicon Plains.
"This is open country for entrepreneurs," said Stephen McKeever, Oklahoma's secretary of science and technology. "There will be a Steve Jobs."
But things are a bit on hold at the moment for the American makers of unmanned air vehicles, or UAVs, as they await rules from the Federal Aviation Administration. Under current rules, you can legally fly drones for "recreational purposes," as long as you comply with certain basic guidelines - such as keeping well clear of airports. ...
by Eugene Hoshiko
July 17, 2014
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-07-drones-big-aviation-small.html#jCp