Drones How they are changing the world you live in
Drones are a real buzz term these days. People are flying them for fun at home, filmmakers are shooting amazing movie scenes with them and the military are using them to fight wars overseas. They have developed a bad reputation in recent times for military reasons, but the unmanned aircraft have so much potential to shape the world we live in for the better. Thankfully, there are some awesome new applications for drones already in use today and some even cooler plans in development. Here is a list of the top ways drones can make a difference.
We’ve grown to expect quick delivery times for goods we buy online, but a bunch of big corporations and are looking to drones to seriously slash their delivery times down to a day, or minutes in some cases. Amazon and Dominos have been to most widely publicized companies to invest in the concept. Amazon has major plans to reinvent it’s delivery system through it’s “Prime Air” service in areas that will permit it. Dominos also shares their vision, with the pizza chain demonstrating how pizzas could be dropped to your door in minutes. DHL and Google are also involved in heavy testing in Australia and Germany, while a French company is trialing them to deliver mail and newspapers direct. If these big companies can get it past US and European lawmakers, drones arriving at your door could be happening a lot sooner than you think.
In life and death situations, an emergency unit arriving one or two minutes earlier can literally save a victims life. In crowded and congested cities this can be a serious issue for ambulance and paramedical staff where response times are often around 10 minutes. For a heart attack victim this can be too long, 6 minutes is the recognized ‘survival window’. A Belgian engineering student has developed an answer, the Ambulance Drone. The system has a built in defibrillator and it is able to pinpoint the location of an emergency call (made from a mobile phone) then travel there using GPS. The unit has speakers, a camera and microphone so a paramedic at the other end can communicate and follow instructions. Units could be positioned on roof tops around the city enabling a swift response within minutes to a victim.
Sometimes journalists have to drop themselves into dangerous situations to get the big story. Cameramen are forced into taking shots in high-risk areas that can be life threatening at times. Keeping the journalist safe while offering above ground shots of dangerous scenes is the new direction of front line reporting from war zones. It’s not such a noble cause, but paparazzi are also taking to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to get the money shot of celebs doing their thing. They don’t have to buzz around weddings in helicopters now, they just send in a drone to do their dirty work for them.
Seriously, this seems like a gimmick from those nerds over at MIT. They have developed Skycall, a student friendly copter that will guide a lost student through the campus to where they need to go. I mean, what every happened to the personal touch, or just asking a real passer by for directions? Either way, you have to admit it’s a cool idea.
Heli-shots are an expensive way to get an aerial shot. With the introduction of drones, complete with high-quality cameras, filmmakers are able to get magical shots at a fraction of the price. This means indie filmmakers can get that million dollar shot and start to compete with the big boys. Chances are that you have already watched a ton of films and TV shows with sweeping drone shots to set up scenes and take dramatic shots not normally possible.
Farmers & Wildlife
Farming is a tough game to be in, and whether they are farming livestock or crops, they need all the technological help they can get. By using drones, farmers who work on big ranches are able to check in on their animals that are sick, injured or escaped. In Australia, there are cattle stations the size of Israel and these farmers are using helicopters, bikes, horses and a ton of man power to monitor and heard their stock.
Quadcopters are making farmer’s lives easier by allowing them to spray pesticides and to check out from above just how well their crops are growing – giving them more information on exactly how to get bigger harvests.
Natural Disasters and Aid Delivery
When disaster strikes there are always complaints that authorities didn’t act quick enough in providing aid and in locating survivors. Drones are already in use in these situations and there is hope that they could come to the rescue of millions of people in years to come. Following the Haiti earthquake, the US government searched for survivors and assisted with some aid delivery using their unmanned copters. But there are plans to ramp this up from non government players, like the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. They are partnering with a U.S based company that can deliver critical life-saving items to isolated areas – the Foundation also has plans to revolutionize vaccine delivery in third world countries through drones.
Search and Rescue
A group called Flyability won the Drones for Good competition this year thanks to their design of a “collision proof” search and rescue drone. This could be a game changer for the emergency response teams that use countless resources, time and money to find people lost in the bush and in treacherous mountainous terrain. The key to this little drone is that it can fit into tight spaces and avoid obstacles when searching. Working with emergency response teams, the group have now put their $1 million in prize money into development of the product.
Saving the Earth
It’s not quite Captain Planet, but it’s close. A team of UK scientists (also winners of the Drones for Good $1 million prize) have developed an answer to global deforestation. Their answer is a drone that assesses how mush deforestation has occurred in an area, mapping it as it goes. They can then return to drop seed pods that will crack open to germinate in the worst affected areas. There are estimates that this system could essentially plant one billion trees per year.
Drones are also being used to monitor endangered species of animals. Researchers can check that they are adapting to new environments, eating well, and in the case of the White African Rhino – not being hunted by poachers.