HOW DOES A DRONE WORK?

I will explain to you how a drone works in this article. Because there are many different types of drones, I will limit myself to the multirotor. On a drone, the only control surfaces are the propeller blades themselves. If the drone only flies in the air without moving itself (hovered), all propellers rotate at almost the same speed. To ensure that it does not rotate on its own axis, the motors rotate in opposite directions.

Learn how a drone works.

FLIGHT DIRECTION OF THE DRONE

As soon as the propellers change in rotation speed relative to each other, the drone will move in the direction where the propellers rotate the slowest. With a drone it does not matter in which direction this happens, so you can fly a drone in any direction you want. So you could actually say that it has no front or back. This fact ensures that it is quite easy to fly compared to a regular helicopter or airplane.

FLIGHT CONTROLLER & MOTOR CONTROLLER (ESCs)

The flight controller is the heart of a drone. The flight controller processes all the data it receives. These include the pilot's input, location via GPS, air pressure and, most importantly, the data from the gyroscopes. All this data is translated by the motor controllers (ESCs) at a speed of up to 1000 times per second into the speeds that the motors must rotate. As soon as the flight controller does not receive any input from the pilot, it uses all sensors to ensure that the drone remains in place and maintains the same flying altitude.

The flight controller of a multirotor

Drones often have a GPS

Most drones are equipped with a GPS module. Thanks to this module, most drones can determine and maintain their location with meter accuracy. With a GPS on board the drone it is also possible to program locations prior to a flight. These are also called waypoints. The drone can perform fully authorized flights.

The GPS function is also used by the drones to ensure safety. Because a drone remembers its starting position before departure, the drone will also return automatically if problems arise such as a low battery, or if the pilot becomes unwell and the failsafe (coming home) button is pressed.

Brand and reliability

From all well-known drone brands DJI Innovations the best-selling brand. In recent years, the quality and reliability of DJI drones have made great strides forward. Some professional drones from DJI are equipped with double flight controllers, 2 flight batteries and various distance sensors. All these extra features ensure that these multirotors are one of the safest commercial drones. The type that we use to make most aerial recordings is also equipped with all these safety measures. Here you will find the latest version of the DJI Inspire 3, which has been on the market since 2023.

Gimbal and Camera system

The system where all drone recording companies stabilizing their cameras is also called a gimbal. The principle of a gimbal is actually comparable to a ship's compass. A gimbal usually consists of 3 axes. A yaw, roll and pitch axis. The yaw axis hangs directly from the drone, the roll axis from the yaw and the pitch from the roll. The gimbal is equipped with 3 stepper motors controlled by gyroscopes. Any deviation is quickly detected and corrected by the motors. These corrections are made so quickly that even small vibrations are absorbed. As a result, the image result is always neat and the horizon is always neatly level. Since a number of years ago, the cameras have been fully integrated into the gimbal. This development has made the systems a lot more user-friendly. This also limits the total weight (MTOM) of the drones

FAQ - Frequently asked questions

  1. Multirotor Drones:

    • Quadcopters: Four-rotor drones are the most common. They provide stability and maneuverability.
    • Hexacopters: Drones with six rotors for improved stability and lifting capacity.
    • Octocopters: Drones with eight rotors for even more stability and lifting capacity, often used for professional aerial photography.
  2. Fixed Wing Drones:

    • Drones with a fixed wing design for longer flight times and greater distances. They are often used for cartography, agricultural monitoring and inspections.
  3. Single-engine Airplane Drones:

    • Drones with a traditional single-engine aircraft design. They can operate fast and efficient long-distance flights.
  4. Hybrid Drones:

    • Drones that combine elements of different designs. For example, drones with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities that include both fixed wings and rotor propellers.
  5. Underwater drones:

    • Drones designed to operate and explore underwater. They can be used for research, inspections and cartography of the ocean floor.
  6. Glider Drones:

    • Drones with a glider design for longer flight times and efficiency. They are often used for atmospheric research.
  7. Helicopter-like Drones:

    • Drones that resemble helicopters with one or more rotor blades on top. This configuration provides flexibility when navigating tight spaces.
  8. Blimps and Hot Air Balloon Drones:

    • Drones that use a balloon or blimp design for slow, steady flight. They can be used for observation and monitoring.
  9. Flying Wing Drones:

    • Drones with a flying wing design without a traditional fuselage. They are aerodynamically efficient and suitable for high-speed flights.
  10. Autonomous Drones:

    • Drones that use advanced sensors, artificial intelligence and navigation technologies for autonomous flying and decision-making.

In 1907, the world's very first quadcopter was developed by inventor brothers Jacques and Louis Bréguet, in collaboration with the controversial Nobel Prize winner Professor Charles Richet. While undoubtedly exciting, it suffered from some significant limitations, including a lack of controllability, the need for four men to keep it stable, and an initial flight that reached only two feet above the ground. Nevertheless, this creation did contribute to the innovation of the quadcopter form factor as we know it today.

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