Saturday 25 April, 2015
When you think of drones, you probably imagine the undeclared wars that the US is fighting in countries such as Pakistan and Yemen. These remote-controlled aircraft are best known for the destruction they bring, and this is why they’re controversial. But there are also many peaceful ways to use drones and we’ll see more of them in the future.
What’s interesting is that the laws regarding drone use aren’t fully formulated yet. We have a situation where there’s a new thing on the market (yes, you can buy or build your own civilian-use drones… not for bombing people of course), but the law hasn’t caught up yet.
Drones are being developed and tested for a variety of uses and here are just a few.
Drones Can Save Lives
Drones can not only kill, but also save lives. A team led by George Barbastathis is developing a drone that can be deployed by a smartphone to help with healthcare and saving lives. Drones can get to places where people and vehicles can’t. It’s likely that they’ll be an important tool for delivering medicine, supplies and help for saving lives in the future.
Dronies, not Selfies
Many drones come equipped with a camera. This is why they’re already being used by hobbyists and photographers to get awesome aerial shots that would be very hard to get without them. These “dronies” can get excellent birds-eye view footage of sporting events, other events and natural areas. If you think your selfies drive engagement on social media, try taking one of these.
Drones can get right into the eye of a hurricane or the path of a tornado without risk to human life. While this sort of takes the thrill out of hunting storms, it’s valuable for researchers, who can spy on the inner workings of a storm using a drone, rather than putting a human being in danger.
Lending a Hand
Some researchers, like the Flying Machine Arena with its Flight Assembled Architecture installation, are toying with the idea of using drones to build towers and other construction products. Drones can lift materials and perform various kinds of work up high where it’s hard for humans to go.
Watching the Flock
A recent viral video showed two Irish brothers using a drone to manage their sheep. It was funny, but using drone technology to manage animals is no joke. The Lindbergh Foundation launched the Air Shepherd Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for drones that would watch endangered animals like rhinos and elephants and catch poachers in Africa.
Delivering the Goods
Drones can save lives and help us fight extreme weather, but what about getting your pizza faster? Domino’s Pizza is currently developing the DomiCopter, which can deliver your pizza in about ten minutes by avoiding traffic. Companies like Amazon, with its Amazon Prime Air project, are hoping to be able to deliver the goods you order through the skies instead of on-land, thus making it quicker and more efficient.
Of course, the bombing comes first. When you have enemies everywhere, there’s no time to lay down ground rules. But in the near future, we’ll see more drones for civilian use as well as the laws and infrastructure they’ll need. The high-tech age we live in never delivered on the flying cars, but drones might be even cooler.