I had a very interesting question today from an individual curious about drone technology, specifically why drone technology and camera technology used difference transmissions for their wireless applications.
The answer is relatively simple. Power.
Drones use Radio frequencies to transmit between themselves and home base. Radio frequencies have some pretty lofty power requirements, and while your drone may be able to fly out to 7 km away, at 40 mph, the 25 or so minute fly time on a high end drone limits it’s use in long range security applications.
And that is an extremely high end drone. Most of the more affordable options will go between 2 km and .5 km before the transmitter won’t reach anymore. Plus the fly time is 8 minutes.
In the city, 8 minute fly times and a .5 km range is enough. Let us remember, however, that there are expectation of privacy rules that apply to all of us. What you capture may or may not be useful.
Back to the power idea, though. If a drone transmitting 4k video over a distance of (approximately) 5 kilometers can only be in the air for around 25 minutes, a camera doing the same may be capable of running for about 1 hour. You would still require a backup power source, which in many applications is extremely difficult to do based on the locations some of these cameras are required to go. Running a wire (trenched or otherwise) becomes a much more feasible option.
Cameras have limited wireless options. The drawback to them is the same no matter what connectivity you’re using. Wireless is a low power option which makes it more feasible, but the range is limited.
Don’t get me wrong. Drones are here and they are going to change how security is approached. UAV is a connectivity we will use for a long time to come. To make it viable for public consumption, however, the high power requirements need to be resolved. And it will be.
Like a cellphone, a drones range is limited only by the power of it’s antennae and the size of it’s battery. Unlike cellular networks, however, Drones are often working off a dedicated antennae that is pointed directly at them.
Remember that the personal, recreational drone you are using is always looking for the serial number and frequency your remote control is emitting and vice versa. These signals are, most of the time, designed to be a much narrower coverage area.