Drones are a great invention that makes many jobs much easier. They are used in the film and TV industry, in security and more. Every drone needs to be managed by a drone service company, but not all drones are the same.
In fact, not all drones are free-flying. You can often see drones which are attached to cables. We often do not realize that these are drones, but they are, they are just a different type, specifically, they are tethered drones.
These are made to perfectly suit a variety of uses. Free-flying drones are usually what comes to mind when we think of drones, period. However, tethered drones also serve very important roles in defense and security operations.
If you need a drone that is capable of staying in one spot, for hours and hours, or if you need to be able to monitor large areas, or have a static security position, tethered drones can provide this for you.
What Are Tethered Drones?
So, what is a tethered drone? These drones are made from three parts, the first is the drone itself, this will include the multirotor, especially round on quadcopters. Then there is the cable or tether, which serves as a link for data transferring and also connects the drone to a constant source of power.
Then you have the control station on the ground, this will house the tether winch, and it will also hold the controls that you need to lower and raise the drone. This can be created in two ways.
You could modify a free-flying unit to accept being tethered, even if they were not made to function this way. Of course, the most obvious way is to simply purchase a tethered drone that is made this way. This is the best way.
What Are The Benefits Of Tethered Drones?
There are many benefits of tethered drones, but one of these is the power source. The most common sources of power for an untethered drone can be hydrogen, LiPo batteries, and of course gasoline.
Although untethered drones have more free movement, carrying this source of fuel does limit the amount of time the drone can be airborne. Even the most brilliant LiPo batteries can only provide you with an hour of flying time.
Tethered drones do not suffer from such limits. If you use a generator, or another form of external source to fuel the drone, the drone can remain in the air for hours or even days! The ease of operating these will also be improved dramatically.
An untethered drone will usually need the skills of a trained professional pilot to operate safely as well, you need to understand restrictions in airspace, aerodynamics, and weather conditions and how they affect your aircraft.
With a tethered drone, you do not suffer this either, since the cable keeps in the same spot, all that is needed is the lowering and raising of said drone.
With less training, you can perform all the functions a tethered drone needs.
What Are Their Uses?
Tethered drones have many uses you may not typically think of, these can include monitoring outdoor crowds, traffic control, and pop-up telecommunication sites. However, the most use tethered drones get is in surveillance and security.
They can be used at military bases, borders, airports, and shipping ports quite regularly. The fact that these are semi-permanent or even permanent makes them a good way to enforce protection. They are basically constant eyes in the sky.
Spaces such as vehicle checkpoints and large wide open spaces are monitored very well through tethered drones.
Do They Have Any Limitations?
They may sound perfect, with such long flight times, but they are limited.
The payload of these is limited in comparison to other services which may have a flight duration such as an aerostat balloon. These can stay airborne for days and carry several thousand lbs in payload. A tethered drone will have the same payload limit as a free-flying drone, however.
Their cables do provide power, and data paths, but they do limit where your drone can go. The drone can only move within the length of the tether. Of course, this design can make it harder to fly when there are obstructions overhead, such as trees or power lines.
Lastly, their portability can be an issue, as they need a constant external source of power, they are only as portable as their source of power. If you need to keep a look over one spot it is not an issue, but if you need to move its location, this can be problematic.