A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle which can be remotely controlled.
The development of a technology for using unmanned vehicles stems from the military sector, where use of drones has avoided loss of pilot lives in aerial combat and attack manoeuvres. In time, the fact that a flying vehicle can operate without the need to carry people has been found to provide other advantages which are beneficial also in a civilian context and for business settings.
As a result, different types of drones have been developed:
- Fixed-wing drones: these have fixed wings, meaning that a landing strip is necessary for take-off and landing, although in some cases a launcher may be used. Fixed-wing drones can usually fly long distances at high speeds.
- Rotor drones: commonly called vertical take-off drones. These have the advantage that they are able to hover, and are also highly manoeuvrable, two characteristics that are highly useful in civilian applications. This type of drones can come in different configurations: with a single main rotor and another on the tail (much like a conventional helicopter), coaxial rotors, tandem rotors, multi rotors, etc.
- Hybrid drones: combine characteristics of the fixed-wing and rotor drones. These drones are not very common, given the difficulty in controlling two combined flight systems.
All of these drones can be controlled remotely, either manually or, in some cases, they can be programmed to follow a specific flight plan, thereby increasing possibilities for use.
The Digital Hub supports initiatives of this type, driving the use of drones in some of Ferrovial’s activities, particularly those where the condition of certain assets must be monitored or where regular inspection of difficult-to-reach areas is required, or where access would imply risks for workers.
The Digital Hub therefore has specialist staff holding pilot licenses for operating drones outdoors and its own equipment (drones with high resolution cameras to take photographs during flight).
The use of drones in indoor settings, with sensors allowing them to provide other types of measurements, is another area which the Digital Hub seeks to drive. Using drones indoors is less complicated, as pilot licences are not required.