It seems drones are everywhere these days. If you go to a scenic location, chances are good that you’ll hear that buzzing noise nearby soon. But one needs a dedicated place to develop and research about drones ‒ a drone lab, to be sure. Today, we will talk about how to set up a drone lab and what drone equipment you need.
So, what are drones anyway? Drones, or to be more formal, UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are small aircraft that you can control from the ground with a dedicated controller. This is a very broad definition, though. There are a bewildering variety of drones that come in all shapes and sizes ‒ from tiny fits-in-the-palm toys to military remote controlled airplanes capable of bombing a whole village.
Drones are a very young technology, at least in the public sector. The concept of remote controlled aircraft is nothing new but in the consumer sector the revolution has just only begun. Nowadays, we are using drones for a lot of stuff ‒ from taking pictures and videos to analyzing large 3D spaces to counting trees and finding geographical faults.
Once they were a technology reserved for the elite and the special, but now drones have become accessible and affordable to pretty much anyone. This is pushing the boundaries of aircraft innovation like never before. You can say, community involvement in UAV research has taken to the skies!
In our country, a change is coming over the educational landscape. The new education policy we are implementing requires schools to upgrade to 21-st century knowledge and skill set disbursement. With that in view we are implementing STEM labs in schools, and drone labs are an excellent way to teach STEM if you got the funds for it.
Teaching drone technology to students in a drone lab is a great way to introduce them to modern technology and engineering. Drones are a ton of fun ‒ kids will love building and maintaining them. They have lots of different parts which can be changed to alter the behavior of the drone; this will incite the students to explore and experiment on their own.
Drones are great at teaching how various physics principles work ‒ all that are connected to aerial movements and fluids. They are great at building fine control skills and visual coordination since you have to control them indirectly from the ground. Kids can also learn various aspects of society and how the modern and futuristic world works with drones. For example, drones are used to carry out pathological testing in rural and mountainous areas.
Let’s face it, drones are here to stay ‒ just as smartphones were 20 years ago. The faster we prepare our future generations for them, the better off they will be.
Doing R&D with drones is as exciting as it can be rewarding. But to do it effectively to gain results, you will need to set up a drone lab properly. That is not as easy as it sounds.
Most drone labs need to have at least two dedicated areas of work depending upon their function ‒ the development zone and the testing zone. Let’s look into details about these.
The room where students build, maintain, and modify their drones and drone parts is called the Drone Development Area. Since this science is very common to STEM, an existing STEM lab with a dedicated drone assembly/maintenance table will do fine as a drone development zone. If, however, you are building a solo or separate drone lab for your school, then you have to include the following furniture in it:
Additionally, you will need the following drone lab equipment ready at hand:
Apart from the above, do keep some basic DIY crafting supplies like glue, tapes, cardboard, paint, etc. handy in a cabinet ‒ you never know what kids may think up!
What’s the point of building a cool drone if you can’t fly it around and make it do things? The drone testing area is a dedicated space for the students to test out their drones in a safe, clear area with various testing accessories installed. It can be indoor or outdoor, depending upon your facility’s available space.
An ideal drone testing area should be 18 feet by 24 feet in floor space and 15 feet of vertical clearance. Indoors, you can throw up a net inside your gym or indoor performance area and use that for your drone testing. The net should be at most 1-inch square mesh. Cover the floor of this area with foam matting so the delicate devices don’t get hurt when they drop from mid-air.
Note: you can also rig up a net in an outdoor area for drone testing purposes. This will ensure drones stay within range and don’t fly off.
If you are testing outdoors, consider equipping your students with high-visibility work vests (yellow or orange) so that people don’t jostle them accidentally while they are holding delicate equipment and working. If they are going to work inside the testing area, then equip them with hard hats as well ‒ its not a pleasant experience when a flying drone hits you on the back of your head.
If the drone testing area is indoors and permanent, then you can invest in some good hardware for drone flight testing. Hang loops and bars and rods from the ceiling to create an obstacle course. Add motion-detection cameras in four corners to track your drone’s performance precisely. Use glass instead of net. Project location photos on a wall and test to see if the drone recognizes obstacles. There are lots of possibilities you can explore with an indoor drone testing facility.
On the other hand, the outdoors offer you lots of opportunities if your drone will be primarily used for filming or transportation.
Drones are fun, educational, useful, and certainly the future that’s going to stay. Building a drone lab for your students now is one of the smartest things to do to increase your school reputation and attract more students. Building a standalone drone lab or as a part of the STEM lab is very prudent ‒ albeit a bit costly ‒ for any school administrator. To that end, Labkafe can help immensely. Our drone lab package includes all lab equipment and accessories you need to take off with your drone lab today. Contact now and find out more!
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