As drones continue to take the world by storm, you may at some point have wondered how these miniature flying machines are made. It doesn’t take a genius to know that drones are designed by engineers, but the real question is about the type of engineers that make drones.
Engineers involved in making drones include mechanical, aeronautical, software, controls, computer, and electrical engineers. Drones include advanced technologies and their production cuts across several engineering disciplines.
It’s easy to think drones are manufactured by engineers in a single discipline. But when you think about the various interconnected systems of drones that work together to communicate and function as designed, then you begin to see the complexity involved in the manufacture of drones.
In this article, I’ll be discussing the various types of engineering involved in the design and manufacture of drones Many types of engineers are crucial to the production of these flying machines the world can’t get enough of.
Mechanical engineers play a crucial role in the manufacture of drones since this field is basic to deal with the design, construction, and use of drones. A drone mechanical engineer needs an in-depth understanding of the principles of physics and must understand concepts like flight dynamics, propulsion, and production methods.
It is mechanical engineers who build as well as test the various systems and subsystems of the drones. Mechanical engineers design the prototype of drones and play a pivotal role in bringing the prototype to the market.
Before a prototype can come to market, it must have undergone several testing rounds and relevant upgrades to make sure the model is super reliable and capable of providing a satisfactory experience for users. That’s the demanding and fun work that mechanical engineers do to provide you with reliable drones.
Since there are many regulations about the design of drones, it’s the job of mechanical engineers to incorporate these guidelines in the design of their drones. Also, they need to have a wide understanding of materials and how these materials behave in different environments.
The aim of mechanical engineers when designing drones is to come up with a product whose geometry brings about maximum strength while still being lightweight for efficiency. This has led to the quadcopter design being the most popular on the market because it is the simplest and most robust drone design from a mechanical point of view.
As you may already know, electrical engineering has to do with anything electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism-related. The field encompasses power, telecommunications, control systems, and signal processing, all of which are utilized in the design of drones. And it is the electrical engineers that bring this knowledge to bear when drones are being designed and manufactured.
Electrical engineers also use their expertise to develop new electrical components, solve problems of existing ones, or test equipment.
Consumer drones run on electricity. Without electricity, your drones can’t get off the ground, and advancements in the field of electrical engineering are one of the major reasons that we have drones today.
Until recently, electric motors and batteries were not capable of lifting their own weight. In the past, hobbyists used small gasoline engines to power RC aircraft. The emergence of lithium polymer batteries has meant that drones can have a reliable power source thanks to this type of battery’s power output and density.
The work of electrical engineers is also evident in the motors of drones, an essential component for flight. Most drones now use brushless motors instead of conventional brushed motors. Brushed motors are designed to use physical metal pads to move or slide along the motor shaft, which is less efficient.
Brushless motors are more efficient than brushed motors as they don’t use physical metal pads to slide along the motor shaft. Instead, they rotate by selectively activating offset coils. They can be as much as 90% efficient, in contrast to the typical 80% efficiency of brushed motors.
Electrical engineers also work on the control aspect of drones, as they are involved in the control systems and signal processing of drones.
Drones are in a way flying computers and thus require the expertise of computer engineers in design and manufacture. Components such as microcontrollers, sensors, and power transistors are incorporated into the drone and are essential for performance, and these are designed by computer engineers.
With all the above components and the expertise of a computer engineer, all the components of the drones are able to communicate with each other and process the control algorithms, making a drone that is able to be controlled through a remote controller.
Commands are given to the drone by the user to get to the microcontroller fitted through a radio receiver. The commands are then processed and output signals are sent to the motors to carry them out.
Have you ever used a drone with Sports mode? The Sports mode offers plenty of fun and adrenaline as you can fly fast, precisely, and carry out crazy stunts and maneuvers. And how is this possible? It’s because the drone is able to make smooth and fast responses as you control it. This level of precision and speed wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of the controls engineers involved in the manufacture of drones.
A controls engineer needs an astute understanding of system dynamics to be able to create algorithms that will incorporate user commands and be able to process, and reprocess them while adjusting the output.
Drones would be almost impossible to fly without a computer-enhanced control system. While various sensors are usually fitted on drones, the most important sensors when it comes to the control function are the gyro and accelerometer. Together these sensors are referred to as IMU. The IMU accurately recognizes the motion of drones and it is due to this recognition that drones are able to hover in the air and perform different maneuvers.
Drones are incomplete without software, which basically means the instructions that tell drones what to do. The reason you can input commands and get the drone to do as you wish is because of the software that instructs the computer system of the drone on how to act.
Software engineers have a vast knowledge of computer operating systems, programming languages, and software development. These engineers work with the other engineers throughout the design and manufacture of drones and come up with creative solutions to satisfy the needs of the users.
Aeronautical engineers design and manufacture drones, planes, helicopters, and anything capable of flight. The expertise of an aeronautical engineer is needed during drone design and development because he/she has been trained to design, construct, analyze, and test machines capable of flight, including drones.
Aeronautical engineers are able to advise on optimal body shape and design to achieve the most efficient flight possible. They are the ones who make sure that the drone can stay in the air and perform the types of maneuvers desired.