Will quadcopters change the world?


Oct 10, 2014 by Smart Blog

Quadcopters, also known as quadrocopters or quadricopters, are un-manned helicopters with four motors, each mounted on a separate arm or 'blade'. They can either be flown via remote control, or pre-programmed and allowed to fly autonomously.

Available in a range of sizes and price brackets, from around £15, quadcopters are increasingly popular with hobbyists, who enjoy flying them both indoors and outside. Recently, however, there has been talk of more serious uses for these 'toys'.


The Basics

Quadcopters are popular because they are much more simple to build and maintain than similarly sized helicopters - many have only four moving parts - and generally safer in use. They are exceptionally agile and can take off vertically, hover very steadily and fly in all directions, often with incredible stability and precision.

Quadcopters have an on-board computer, which works with a range of sensors. The aircraft is battery powered, and can be remotely controlled using a custom unit or, in many cases, via a smartphone or tablet computer.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of the quadcopter, however, is the ability to carry quite considerable loads. Many hobbyists attach cameras to their quadcopters and use them for aerial photography, often with stunning results. Even fairly small quadcopters (of a size that can be carried in a briefcase, for example), can carry a good quality camera.



As quadcopter use increases, and technology moves on, a number of potential uses have been suggested for these small, nimble aircraft. These include:

  • Aerial photography and filming - for entertainment and law enforcement purposes.
  • Surveying of buildings and other sites – eg, for the regulation of building processes, roof and foundation inspections, the surveying of tunnels, caves and other difficult-to-reach areas, etc.
  • Search and rescue - quadcopters may be sent on ahead of personnel, especially in dangerous, remote or large open areas, to pinpoint the exact location at which help is needed.
  • Military operations - quadcopters may have a role in surveillance, or in delivering items to remote or dangerous locations.
  • Transporting small/medium sized items - it was recently rumoured that some large internet-based stores were planning to make deliveries via quadcopter or other, similar, unmanned aircraft. However, while this is theoretically possible, quadcopters run on batteries that have a limited lifespan, so the distances involved would be limited - at the moment.


Great Fun

As things stand, quadcopters are used primarily by those who enjoy flying them for a hobby and, increasingly, by professional photographers and videographers to shoot aerial footage.

Quadcopters come in a wide range of sizes, from a few centimetres upwards, and are versatile and agile enough to fly virtually anywhere. This, and their affordability, makes them appealing to adults and younger people alike.

That said, little moves as fast as technology these days, and although they may be 'toys' at the moment, the inherent advantages of quadcopters (simplicity, ease of maintenance, ability to maintain a steady hover, agility and ability to carry load) do seem to offer the potential for much wider application in the future.