For decades, aeronautical engineers have attempted to find a way to remove the danger facing human pilots by handing aircraft controls to automated systems. In recent years, those efforts have come to fruition in the form of unmanned aerial vehicles. This aircraft – commonly known as a drone – has enabled many organizations to safely launch expeditions without placing human pilots in harm's way. Initially, UAVs were utilized for purely militaristic applications or matters of national security. Recently, companies across numerous industries have discovered a wide range of applications that could revolutionize the way these vehicles are deployed.

While UAVs have historically been used to conduct surveillance or military operations behind enemy lines or patrol unprotected borders, the technology presents a great deal of potential in domestic and consumer applications. One of the most famous examples is Amazon's proposed delivery system which would leverage drone technology. Pending safety tests and approval from the FAA, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stated that such a project could become a reality within five years, according to CBS News. As conceived by the e-commerce giant, when a consumer finalizes a purchase on the website, a UAV is activated, which then picks up a package at an Amazon facility and delivers it to the user within 30 minutes.

Farmers, meteorologists benefit from UAVs
National Geographic cited a wide variety of other uses for the technology that could enhance numerous sectors. In the agriculture industry, for instance, farmers can utilize UAVs to keep tabs on their crops and spot developing issues deep within a field that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. If equipped with pesticide, fertilizer or water application systems, these vehicles would allow for precise dispersal of these materials, allowing farmers to manage their resources more efficiently and cut down on their overhead costs. Overall, this detailed approach to crop management would result in higher yields and lower operating expenses. That could provide major relief to an industry that has struggled in recent years to keep their costs under control.

Another area with significant potential for UAV deployment is weather prediction, particularly regarding major storms. National Geographic noted that meteorologists' capacity to accurately forecast the path and severity of hurricanes is limited by their inability to get up close to these types of weather systems. By sending unmanned aircraft into the eye of a storm, meteorologists could better determine where a hurricane will make landfall and how strong its wind speeds are. NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Northrop Grumman have embarked on an experiment deploying UAVs in order to monitor storm activity and gather valuable data. This information will allow scientists to make more accurate forecasts regarding where hurricanes will strike, giving residents more lead time to evacuate if necessary.

Researchers from the University of Florida have also experimented with this technology, launching six-inch-long UAVs that funnel their way through a storm to collect information that traditional, manned vehicles would never be able to access. Given the pair of hurricanes that wreaked havoc across the Gulf states and Eastern Seaboard in the 10 years, this additional data could prove to be a major asset for scientists looking to improve their forecasting capabilities.

Durable storage solutions needed
Such complex and delicate machinery requires working components that can handle tough environmental conditions and continue operating in the face of inclement weather. This is particularly true for the vehicles' data storage devices as UAVs have shown the most promise for domestic applications with their information gathering capabilities. Traditional disk-based options are unrealistic for this equipment because their internal moving parts are prone to damage and disruption. A storage solution running on flash memory would be far more ideal for UAV deployment. In particular, the NAND flash memory in today's solid state drives can offer the reliability and speed needed to quickly and accurately read and write data even in the most inhospitable operating conditions.

For machines that operate under the extreme conditions that UAVs need to fly in, organizations will need to implement SSD drives that go above and beyond normal levels of durability. Off-the-shelf options may not be able to continue functioning in inclement weather, putting the performance of the aircraft at risk. An industrial-strength SSD from DIGISTOR offers the unparalleled durability needed to ensure that sensitive unmanned vehicles are able to operate and gather critical information without disruption. These machines can handle extreme temperatures, significant seismic vibrations and inhospitable environments, all without losing a moment of functionality.

Industrial-strength SSDs offer unparalleled durability
DIGISTOR's industrial-grade SSD solutions come equipped with the S.M.A.R.T. monitoring system, giving operators the ability to view key performance indicators that will notify them if an issue with the drive is on the cusp of materializing. This feature allows organizations to proactively address potential problems before they crop up when a UAV is in the field and miles away from a technician.

Given the high cost of unmanned aircraft technology, operators will want to reduce their overhead costs whenever possible. An often overlooked expense is the amount of money needed to replace overtaxed or exhausted components. A poor-quality SSD will run through its memory blocks at an alarming rate, requiring officials to spend additional resources on new drives. By employing a DIGISTOR industrial-strength SSD, organizations can utilize the device's over-provisioning features to extend the life of the device and reduce the amount of capital used on aircraft maintenance and repair.

When working with technology as advanced, complex and sensitive as a UAV, operators will want to employ only the best components so they wring the best performance possible out of the aircraft. DIGISTOR's line of industrial SSD drives offer the durability and reliability needed to ensure that these vehicles continue running effectively for years to come.


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