We are pretty sure you have been wondering about night vision drones.
How Can Drones Work at Night?
With developments in technologies, drones have become common for applications such as security, surveillance, rescue missions, and photography. As of now, there are rules and restrictions which prevent drones to be used at night. However, people are continuously trying to overcome the challenge of using drones at night. With research being done in different areas which enable nighttime operation, the results have resulted in the idea of night vision drones.
The authorities controlling the timings during which drones are permitted to fly have stated that it is possible to obtain a night waiver if certain requirements are met. These requirements revolve around the features of a drone. If a drone has a visibility of around three nautical miles at night, you can easily get permission to fly.
In order to obtain such levels of visibility, there are a number of methods being researched upon which could potentially result in drones being used at night. The most popular ones of these include thermal imaging, high-intensity lighting, and infrared cameras.
Thermal imaging in night vision drones
Thermal imaging in drones works through heat-detecting sensors. Instead of using visible light as a medium, the cameras on such a drone make images through heat maps. Given that all objects give some form of thermal energy, it is possible to capture the heat signatures of objects nearby to create an image.
The hotter the object is, the more thermal energy it radiates. The image then contains a range of colors, which signifies the amount of energy being radiated. Such images can be better understood through the emission spectrum being used as a legend. Hotter objects are represented with brighter colors.
Artificial coloring is used on the thermal images in order for the human eye to understand them better. This helps with interpretation as well as making the objects in an image clearer. Heat vision cameras can capture a range of objects such as buildings, people, animals, liquids, land, planes, and vehicles.
Cameras that utilize thermal imaging can be mounted on drones in order to give them vision at night. Given that objects radiate thermal energy regardless of what time of the day it is, night vision drones can be made possible with thermal imaging.
Moreover, drones working with thermal imaging can be interfaced with drone FPV goggles which provide the user more control of their unmanned autonomous vehicle. If thermal imaging can provide a picture that can be visible at all times of the day, the use of the best drone FPV goggles with night vision drones can be made possible.
Infrared sensors in drones
In addition to thermal imaging, infrared is another common method used to provide drones with increased visibility. If you were to look at the electromagnetic spectrum, infrared lies right next to visible light. While infrared rays may not be visible to the human eye, sensors have the ability to convert it into a visible image.
As soon as the image is converted into a visible format, it can be analyzed using the concepts of thermal imaging. Different objects would be at different energy levels. For example, objects with electrical components or heating coils will give more thermal energy and will be represented by more intense colors, while other objects which may seem cooler will be represented with lighter colors.
In order to add visibility to drones through the concept of thermal energy, one needs a good camera that can capture temperature information through infrared rays. These cameras then have the ability to capture images of objects through infrared rays and convert them to visible light that can illuminate the objects.
This concept gives the drone a visibility which can then permit it to fly at night as per the rules stated by the authorities. A combination of both visible light and infrared sensors can offer dual performance during the day and night.
High-intensity lighting drones
Just like vehicles on the ground, a sensible approach to increasing visibility would be to use lighting. This could be as simple as attaching a torchlight to your drone or as complicated as installing a system with high-intensity lighting.
Commercial solutions revolve around the ideas of using spotlights, torchlight, or a Do-It-Yourself solution developed to cater to the needs of a drone. If designed in the right manner, simple lighting techniques can provide drone cameras with the ability to capture the right images at night. This allows the nautical mile radius to be met easily.
On the other hand, companies are building solutions that revolve around high-intensity lighting systems being deployed on drones. They propose that 1000 watts should be added to provide them with a quarter of a million lumens. If high-intensity lighting can be achieved at these rates, the drones will practically have the eyes to fly in any intensity of darkness.
Research is constantly being done in various areas to allow for the operation of drones at night. In Switzerland, a paper has been published that talks about drone navigation systems being optimized using dynamic vision sensors and cameras. Dynamic vision sensors are able to detect changes in camera imaging at pixel levels. The team worked with giving eyes to a drone under low-light conditions through the best drone FPV goggles, allowing it to operate at fast speeds.
Drones are widely being used in a wide variety of applications such as rescue missions, surveillance, security, and agriculture. Restricting them to daylight timings result in a loss of their potential. If we could have the ability to operate a drone at any time of the day, the number of doors that could open are going to be numerous. With a combination of night vision drones and the best drone FPV goggles, one would have the ability to take their unmanned autonomous vehicle into the air at any point in the day.