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What is a thermal drone?

Posted By  
20/05/2019
07:00 AM

What is a thermal drone?

 

Camera drones have dramatically increased in popularity over recent years, with many professional and amateur photographers opting to use the technology for a number of contexts. It’s also a common way to obtain unique perspectives on landscapes and scenes for a variety of reasons.

Drones are similarly becoming valuable tools for workers in the construction, mining and surveillance industries, as they allow insight into certain angles that cannot otherwise be attained (like in asset inspections). Along with the growing demand for these gadgets comes an expectation for the technology to develop and progress to meet consumer expectations.

 

Introducing thermal drone technology

 

One of the latest innovations in the realm of camera drones is the introduction of thermography. Essentially, thermal drones contain technology which enables them to create thermal images with heat maps and colour scales. Comparatively to a standard camera version, which creates pictures and video from visible light, a thermal imaging drone can develop a picture from heat.

The technology behind drone thermal cameras is already extensive and highly intelligent, despite the cameras only recently appearing on the market. They can detect even the slightest alterations in temperature – as minor as 0.01 degrees Celsius – making them widely popular. On top of that, they are also able to photograph or record living species, buildings, machines, electrical matter, land, liquids and gases.

 

How can the drones do all this?

 

All objects, alive or not, radiate heat energy in some way or another. The warmer an object is, the more waves it will radiate, and a cool object will radiate less electromagnetic waves.

In order to read and interpret these electromagnetic waves, drones must have infrared, or IR, thermography. This is the process of transforming an infrared image into a radiometric image – meaning temperature values can be seen within the mapped out picture.

Understanding thermal images may seem challenging initially, however a small amount of research and learning allows anybody to interpret the images produced by a drone with these features.

Generally, the most common models produce a greyscale image which indicates white areas as radiating maximum energy (hot temperatures) and black areas as radiating lower energy (cold temperatures). This image can also be shown in more familiar colours like green, blue, and red – for consumers who are less savvy with the technology.

 

Using the technology

 

To get the most out of a drone thermal camera, users are required to adjust the thermal sensitivity NETD (noise equivalent temperature difference). This tool measures how specifically, or sensitively, the drone should distinguish between small changes in temperature. In areas that are generally a lower heat, the NETD may need to be increased to continue producing a quality image.

Because of all this, drone thermography is becoming hugely beneficial for many businesses throughout a number of industries. The clever innovations in the field are comprehensive, safe and accurate, creating many opportunities for those looking to offer more in their suite of services. Beyond this, they’re making challenging tasks more accessible, and are beginning to intrigue many industries that need to innovate and adapt.