Operating radio-controlled helicopters is a pastime for enthusiasts, but these versatile machines have potential to be used for much more than a hobby. Because of their small size and range, rc helis are a tool of choice for commercial applications such as aerial photography and filming, law enforcement, military photojournalism and remote surveillance. They are able to do jobs that would be impossible for humans or full-size aircrafts.
Some companies, such as Draganfly Innovations, create helis specifically for commercial work. The Draganflyer X6 UAV RC Helicopter was created to take high-definition aerial photos and videos, and is becoming a common tool in police investigations. Using a helicopter to respond to the scene of an accident reduces police force labor costs and wait time for road closures.
The intuitive Draganflyer X6 includes interchangeable wireless video and still cameras. The heli can be flown manually or autonomously, and a GPS unit allows the heli to maintain position without user input. Its on-board processors and sensors allow the Draganflyer X6 maximum stability to ensure photo quality, and this increased stability improves handling to the point that minimal training is required for its use.
In addition, the Draganflyer X6 is highly durable. It has six motors, so the unit can continue to operate even if a collision damages one of the motors. The heli is equipped with heat vision, allowing for search and rescue missions at night. Streaming video captured by the Draganflyer X6 can be viewed live through video goggles worn by the operator.
The United States and Canada have both approved the Draganflyer X6 for daily police operations, and the device is currently used by the by law enforcement agencies in Ontario and Saskatoon. In fact, the Ontario Provincial Police were the first in North America to use an unmanned aerial vehicle for police investigation when the Draganflyer X6 was used to collect evidence for a homicide in February 2009.
As RC helicopter technology increases in the coming years, we can be sure that advanced helicopters will play a larger role in commercial applications. Considering the sophistication of the existing helicopters, the future of this equipment will be incredible and perhaps necessary for real world jobs.