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More new tech coming to world of UAVs

More new tech coming to world of UAVs
In many cases, the technology is already here; now it's a matter of becoming affordable.

New technology rolls out for unmanned aerial vehicles almost daily. DJI, a leading manufacturer of UAVs, employs 4,000 people today. Chad Colby says 1,500 of those employees are engineers, constantly looking for new advances in technology and new uses for the UAVs they develop.

Colby is general manager of Central Illinois Ag, a Case IH dealer in central Illinois. He is also a self-taught expert in UAV rules and technology.

He discusses two new developments just now coming out that he believes will someday be big for UAVs.

The first is thermal technology. Colby says it's here and it works.

NEW TECHNOLOGY, NEW USES: What could you do if you had a thermal camera on a drone? UAV expert Chad Colby says there are lots of uses already out there, and more are being developed.

What could you learn with thermal images that sense heat rather than cameras that just sense colors or black-and-white wavelengths? Colby says the possibilities are nearly endless. And it’s not a pipe dream. You can get a thermal camera to mount on a drone and let it record during flight today.

“The only catch today is that the thermal camera costs $12,000,” he relates. “It also takes several months to get a new technology like this after we first see it introduced by a company.”

But it will get cheaper and become more readily available, he says.

Someday technology will let you see through drywall using a drone, Colby notes. In fact, you guessed it — that’s already doable.

The second development is a practical zoom lens for a UAV camera.

A zoom lens already exists for cameras that work on UAVs, Colby says. In fact, you can get one if you’re willing to wait for a few months to receive it — and if you’re willing to pay $1,000 for the zoom feature. It’s that new, he notes.

It’s so new, in fact, that even Colby hasn’t had time to determine everything he can do with the zoom lens. But he’s convinced it holds promise to increase UAV capabilities.

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