Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are gaining more popularity in both the defense and civilian sectors thanks to their effectiveness and ease of operation when compared to manned aircraft.
Battery-powered aerial vehicles are already in use for various functions of military intelligence, as well as for commercial, recreational, scientific, surveillance and agricultural applications.
The large potential of this relatively young industry is reflected in analysts’ expectations of massive expansion over the next several years. A recent report by market researchers Markets and Markets estimates that the UAV market will grow from $13.22 billion in 2016 to $28.27 billion by 2022.
Drones for Commercial and Civilian Use
The usage of UAVs is not limited to military and law enforcement agencies. Commercial users are already showing interest in a wide spectrum of possible assignments, for example, Amazon has recently completed the first public demonstration of its Prime Air drone delivery service.
Other retailers intend to use drones to secure warehouses and store perimeters through video, in addition to aiding in site selection and construction management.
Drones can support different operational aspects including mission endurance, the payload carrying capabilities and the ability to operate safely in harsh environmental conditions and limited logistic footprints.
Alternative Energy Sources
In order to optimize the performance of UAVs, operators need to select the right energy system. Thought should be given to using the right batteries, chargers, starters, and backup batteries in order to guarantee high performance, reliability and extended life cycles of both airborne and ground elements.
One of the best solutions is the use of high-energy and high-power density rechargeable lithium technology. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries offer flexible design and form factors that support complex geometries. Li-ion batteries are already transforming the vehicle market and a similar evolution is expected to take place in the UAV market.
Li-ion batteries offer a long-life cycle, enabling the support of hundreds of missions with a single battery and can be operated in extreme environmental conditions.
This fast-growing industry has led to a substantial reduction in lithium-based energy costs from $1,000 kWh some 10 years ago, to only $200/kWh today. The prices are expected to decrease even further to less than $100/kWh by 2022.
Taking into account the latest improvements in safety and reliability of lithium batteries, Li-ion batteries are a safe and reliable alternative to jet propulsion and offer unparalleled advantages that will undoubtedly advance the UAV industry. Source>>>