Unmanned Systems Technology and Missions

The category and class of unmanned systems affect the possible mission role, and the payload capacity of the technology that is encompassed within the general operational setting (Griffin, 2014). Some of the missions in which unmanned systems can be used include.

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Monitoring of volcanic activity

Fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are used. These UAVs are usually attached to FLIR devices to facilitate the gathering of detailed information regarding thermal emissions, and any other processes undergoing in and around the volcanoes. These are superior to the manned systems as they keep researchers at a safe distance from harm with roles revolving around the visual surveillance of disasters, and gas and sediment sampling (Gomez & Purdie, 2016). Moreover, they have an advantage over manned ground vehicles in collecting gas measurements above volcanoes, as the latter is susceptible to turbulences created by the intense heat (Gomez & Purdie, 2016). The application of UAVs also has a significant cost advantage over the present data collection methodologies from manned aircraft.

Search and rescue in Yosemite National Park

A rotary-wing UAV is most suitable for missions conducted under challenging areas, such as wilderness environments, as they can cover large geographic areas. Rotary wing UAVs can fly both vertically and horizontally, including hovering in needed positions for close monitoring (Ghazali, Anuar, Zakaria, & Yusoff, 2016). UAVs are comparatively better than the traditional manned ground approaches, which are slow and complex due to the presence of large areas and hampered by difficult terrain. In a search and rescue mission, timeliness is a vital factor, therefore, with the employment of UAVs, victims can be quickly located and medical assistance delivered.

Apple orchard monitoring

Depending on the size of the orchard, fixed or rotary-winged UAVs can be employed. Moreover, based on the size, the larger UAVs are used for spraying while the smaller ones carry cameras used to examine any outbreaks of pests and diseases and conducting estimates of crop yields. It is superior to the conventional approaches such as the physical scouting of the orchards regularly, and labor-intensive yield monitoring. Other than exhaustion, manual scouting entails extra costs for additional observation, and safety issues (snake bites). Ground sensing systems are also restrained to small fields of view and time consuming (Shamshiri et al., 2018). On the other hand, satellite imaging technologies are also expensive and they can only take a single image per day (Shamshiri et al., 2018).

Conducting an airstrike on a ground target

Fixed wings UAVs are the most recommendable. This is because, in the event of an airstrike, stability is usually crucial. A fixed-wing UAV can maintain and control the primary parameters that influence flight, for instance, cruise velocity (Clever Drone Maps, 2019). Therefore, this will impact the accuracy of shooting. Another important consideration when conducting an airstrike is discretion. The fixed-wing UAV can glide without propeller propulsion – this property is not available for multi-copter aerial systems – hence, this guarantees the ambush during the shooting moment and the safety of the flight (Clever Drone Maps, 2019). Furthermore, its gliding potential facilitates the elimination of both physical and electromagnetic noises that can impact the quality of taken images, therefore, making it easy to locate the target.


Clever Drone Maps. (2019). Advantages of fixed-wing UAV than rotary wing. Web.

Ghazali, S., Anuar, H., Zakaria, N., & Yusoff, Z. (2016). Determining position of target subjects in Maritime Search and Rescue (MSAR) operations using rotary wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). 2016 International Conference on Information and Communication Technology (ICICTM): Kuala Lumpur. Web.

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Griffin, G. (2014).The use of unmanned aerial vehicles for disaster management. Geomatica, 68(4), 265-281. doi: 10.5623/cig2014-402

Gomez, C., & Purdie, H. (2016). UAV- based photogrammetry and geocomputing for hazards and disaster risk monitoring – A review. Geoenvironmental Disasters, 3(23), 1-11. Web.

Shamshiri, R., Hameed, I., Balasundram, S., Ahmad, D., Weltzien, C., & Yamin, M. (2018). Fundamental research on unmanned aerial vehicles to support precision agriculture in oil palm plantations. Intech Open. Web.


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