Since their initial military grade development, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs or drones) have been redesigned to serve the general public. Anything from picture taking and surveillance to package delivery, these devices have had an extended range of uses for everyday people to government groups and businesses.
For the most part, common drones are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to only operate outdoors due to their size and noise. While most of the initial development has been for larger UAVs, some developers have also been working on producing micro air vehicles (MAVs).
Widespread use of these vehicles has been slow due to a lack of development of small, long-lasting batteries. Because of their size, however, MAVs can easily be recharged as long as they are contained within a low-range area, such as inside a home or warehouse.
For consumers and businesses alike, MAVs can be used for home security, monitoring air quality, and monitoring noise pollution. Companies could track inventory and customer behavior while also spotting hazards like spills in stores. MAVs are also cheaper and safer than their larger drone counterparts, unlikely to cause damage in the case of an accident. MAVs also can perch or stick to walls, which can be useful for gathering information long term without having to control the device continuously. This feature could be applied to areas that are difficult to access such as an air duct.
Marketed largely as toys, these drones are inexpensive (as little as $13 on Walmart.com), straightforward to operate, and can serve as entertainment for all ages. Toy MAVs can potentially teach people how to pilot drones with trends indicating that drone use is on the rise and having experience operating one could prove useful. The FAA reported in January 2018 that over 1 million people have registered to fly drones. Furthermore, the military is increasing its drone requests, opening job opportunities for UAV operators.
The toy versions have had mixed reviews, however, because some drone parts can easily break. There are replacement parts widely available . For larger personal drones, parts can be ordered, or the drone can be shipped and repaired to either the company or a third-party repair shop. Make sure to check about what kinds of policies, prices, and deals drone manufacturers offer for repairs and parts before purchasing one, if interested.
Applications for the technology also extend to agriculture, where farmers and planters can use the MAV technology to deposit small payloads, reducing pesticide use at commercial farms, and increasing efficiency with its distribution.
One of the most significant issues with some MAV applications is outdoor flight—these small devices do not have the power or design to resist wind, potentially sending them off-course or to the ground.
Another issue that MAVs face is long distance flight because operators have to be able to see the device while using it. While larger drones can transmit live video to a display on the controller, microdrones do not have this capability, meaning that their flight is restricted to areas in immediate sight of the controller. Instead, some MAVs utilize GPS technology to navigate.
Micro air vehicles still have substantial obstacles to overcome before being practical for everyday industrial use. As advancements to correct these issues are underway, it could be some time before MAVs make it into ordinary households.