This article is written for drone users that use their drones to film wildlife. Many species of wildlife have far better hearing and sight than humans so a stealthier drone is necessary to film them effectively. The main stealth capability of military drones is their ability to circumvent radar. Visibility and noise are not that important because military drones operate too high up to be seen or heard. Wildlife do not have radar. Civilian drones operate at dramatically lower heights than military drones and can be both seen and hear at these lower heights. This article will focus on how to decrease visibility and noise. Civilian drones are generally quadcopters and this article focuses on quadcopters but a most of the advice would apply to any civilian drone.
1) Visibility – Paint Job
Most drones that advertise as stealth drones are quadcopters that have bodies and propellers made of black plastic. Black is a great color if you are going to use your drone at night but then you need to deal with the limited visibility of your target. The wildlife you want to film might also be asleep at night and not worth observing. Research in aircraft camouflage studies done during WW II found that “sea grey” was the best color for daytime camouflage. Paint your drone sea grey! The night camouflage studies found that matte black is marginally less visible at night than glossy black.
2) Visibility – Transparent Body
A paint job is a five dollar and two-hour solution to the problem of visibility but not the best solution since a paint job that works for the day does not work for the night and vice versa. The advantage of a transparent drone is that the drone will be less visible in both the day and the night. At least that’s what Wonder Woman thought when she rode her invisible plane.
The Hiro Action Sports Airframe is super tough and more important for the subject of this article is transparent! The picture below shows a Hiro Action drone with black wires and a black engine.
Great for the night but not so great for the day. For the day time one could use wires that are as close to sea grey as possible. Painting the engine sea grey is a possibility for a stealthy day drone. Also, transparent quadcopter propellers are available online.
3) Noise Suppression
Off the shelf quadcopter engines and propellers are noisy! Stealth capability is severely compromised because of noise. Visibility issues can be dramatically resolved through relatively cheap, straightforward and easy solutions. There are no easy answers to the problem of noise suppression. I am not going to pretend to be an expert on this very technical subject and instead will refer the reader to several excellent articles on the subject listed below.