Master Five Benefits to Conquer Unmanned Vehicles
The flourishing development of various emerging intelligent unmanned vehicles and robots has provided a wide range of industrial opportunities. In addition to industrial robots applied in the manufacturing field, service-oriented robots have become very important in the future application of intelligent robots.
Among service-oriented robotic products, mobile robots with spatial mobility have the ability to provide a variety of service applications. This kind of mobile robots can be divided into three types: the already well-known unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), and unmanned maritime vehicles (UMVs).
Since these vehicles can be remotely operated or can be used to accomplish missions in autonomous driving mode, the application of unmanned vehicles has five benefits compared with the traditional manually operated vehicles. First, unmanned vehicles can reduce labor costs and safety risks, e.g., the inspection of wind turbines from high altitude by UAVs; second, unmanned vehicles can improve work efficiency and flexibility, e.g., deep sea detection by UMVs; third, unmanned vehicles can increase revenues through innovative application services, e.g., aerial photography of geographic information by UAVs; fourth, unmanned vehicles can be combined with the trend of digital business development, e.g., the collection and compilation of digital data by various unmanned vehicles; fifth, new consumer-related applications, e.g., logistics and distribution by UAVs and UGVs for online shopping.
The UAV development around the world is booming, and its applications are becoming more and more extensive.
In fact, the development of UAVs encompasses more than 90 years of history, first used for military purposes in the early stages. Recently, due to the rise of Internet of Things and the integration of information, communication and network technologies, various companies around the world have continued to explore new UAV innovation service applications. The current development directions can be divided into three categories: information collection, transportation, and communication.
UAVs as an aerial information collection platform: this is the most mature application mode among the UAV innovative applications. Information useful to the clients of UAV application services is generated through various images and data analysis. The main industries utilizing this application include precise agriculture, architecture/ mining/ engineering, energy/ public facility inspection, entertainment and media.
Goods transportation by UAVs: modes of application include mail, express delivery, routine cargo delivery, such as food, and delivery of emergency, rescue and medical supplies.
However, due to regulatory restrictions, the use of UAVs is still in the form of experimental operation in various countries. Some companies are studying how to provide logistic solutions with UAVs or how to combine UAVs and vehicles under the regulatory restrictions.
UAVs as a regional communication and network platform: the development of ultra-high-altitude UAVs has become uncertain after Google stopped its R&D plans. However, communication service providers, such as AT&T, Verizon and China Mobile have started cooperating with communication devices and UAV companies on experimental programs to construct LTE and 5G mobile emergency base stations.
Logistics and transportation have become the new blue ocean of unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) applications. In terms of the control method, UGVs can be grouped into two categories: remote control and autonomous driving (AGV), and applications include the transportation of goods, security, outdoor scientific research, disaster relief, urban management and national defense. Using UGVs to assist restaurants, vendors and the logistics industry in delivering goods to customers is a highly promising new application in the market of small UGV products.
Unmanned maritime vehicles (UMVs) have good application potential. UMVs are multiple-use ships and vessels that can accomplish specific missions with certain equipment or loads through remote control or autonomous operation without carrying operators or passengers.
According to the application environment and control methods, UMVs can be divided into four types: remote control surface vehicles, autonomous surface vehicles, remote control underwater vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicles.
At present, UMV applications include national defense, marine scientific study, construction and maintenance of oil and gas pipelines and other marine facilities, and underwater geographic information surveys.
Many countries have actively developed offshore wind power and underwater mining, and this has become an emerging application market of ASV (autonomous surface vehicles), ROV (remotely operated vehicles) and AUV (autonomous underwater vehicles).
In Taiwan, many companies have invested in the R&D of UAVs and the development of application services, such as the use of UAVs to collect homeland information, solar panel inspection and the provision of temporary communications in the event of natural disasters.
However, there is still a lot of room for development with respect to commercial applications and services of UGV and UMV. A variety of UMVs and UAVs will be required in the construction and operation of large-scale off-shore wind farms. This presents an opportunity for Taiwan to develop the technologies and application services of various types of unmanned vehicles for land, sea, and air.