More and more now, drones are being used to inspect many types of infrastructure. They are low-cost and easy to maneuver, which makes them great options for inspecting things such as oil rigs, buildings, wind turbines, and much more. They also don’t put human lives in danger and they are perfect for the jobs.
Most people assume that drone inspections are strictly performed by using normal high definition cameras to view whatever needs to be inspected. While this is true many times, a new technology that you should be familiar with is thermal imaging.
What Is Thermal Imaging?
Many of you are probably familiar with the concept of thermal imaging. Scientifically put, it displays differences in the thermal energy given off my objects. So, what exactly does that mean?
Here’s an example that might help you visualise it. If you are standing behind a solid wall, and a thermal imaging camera is filming behind that wall, it will be able to detect you. Since your body heat radiates much more heat than the wall, you would show up as being much more lighter in colour than the wall and you would be easy to see. The warmer the object, the lighter colour that is displayed. If objects are of different temperature, you will be able to see them, no matter if solid objects are blocking them or not.
Uses in Drones
Now that you have some basic knowledge of what the technology actually is, how is it used in drones? Well, like many drone applications, thermal imaging was first used for military purposes. It allows the military to see threats through solid objects and fire strikes if needed.
But, instead of just being used for warfare, this application has some positive uses now for saving lives. Fire and rescue workers are increasingly using drones to search for people in places where it is too dangerous for humans to go. Thermal imaging gives them a huge advantage because it increases the range the drones are able to see. Its ability to look through walls and travel almost anywhere means that the drone should have no problem finding anyone no matter how trapped they are. This is great for building collapses, fires, or any natural disaster. Also, police are using the technology similar to the military, in trying to find suspects who are hiding.
So, is it just used for detecting people? Actually no. Although this is the most practical way to use thermal imaging, as people are easy to detect, thermal imaging on drones are starting to be used for home and building inspections.
The drone will fly by the exterior during a normal time and capture thermal images. This shows hot and cold spots in the building, which can point out where it is and isn’t energy efficient. For example, if the roof is much lighter than the rest of the house, this could mean it is losing heat through the roof. Thermal imaging can be used to detect places where better insulation is needed, cracks in walls, or leaks. It will be able to detect these problems much sooner than any human could, which makes it an invaluable resource.