The Future of Drones...It Looks Good
Initially, the word “drone” was only used under the negative connotation of wars, unmanned killing machines, and unwarranted flying regulations. The topic was very controversial: “should we be allowing unmanned robots to take lives?” “Do they take the human moral element out of war?” But now, drones are slowly becoming the topic of everyday conversation as smaller remote-controlled versions are being used by the average person to take amazing pictures and shoot never-before-seen video footage.
But where is the future for these drones? Will the unmanned, remote controlled, flying robots only be good in the artistic search for videos and photos? We think not.
Package Delivery at Its Finest
One of the most commonly known ideas being thrown around the brainstorming rooms is package delivery drones. Google has been working on a project to get drones to deliver packages door-to-door rather than ground services. This drone has many safety features that allow it to treat the packages with care and make sure that the delivery process is delightful for all customers.
A few setbacks are keeping these drones from currently becoming a reality: one being the idea of having so many drones in the sky and coming up with a method to safely guide that traffic. This also becomes a problem due to rules barring the use of drones in certain areas. Currently, the FAA is keeping a short leash on who is allowed to fly drones in certain public areas, with safety being their principal concern. There are, however, considerations to these rules: section 333 allows for commercial operations in low-risk, controlled environments. It will be Google’s job to convince the FAA to release their tight grip on these unmanned flying machines if they ever want to make airborne package delivery services a reality.
Robotic Emergency Services
A project carried out by a grad student in the Netherlands brought emergency response time down to just one minute by using an unmanned aerial vehicle to fly past the crowded sidewalks in order to get to the patient in time.
In many parts of the U.S. it can take an ambulance at least 10 minutes to get to the scene of an accident, sometimes much longer when the city streets are often bumper to bumper. With a flying drone, a first responder is able to get to the scene in only one minute, as long as it is within a 7-mile radius of the accident. This quick response time boosts the survival rate of such patients from an astounding 8% to 80%.
After it arrives, the drone gives instructions to those there that are willing to help on how to use its in-house defibrillator, or how to stabilize the person in need. This drone is still in its prototype stage, and has yet to actually be implemented into the public sphere. But imagine if it were in places like New York and Chicago where the streets are so crowded it is nearly impossible to navigate an ambulance at fast enough speeds to save lives.
Saving Animals and the Environment
Using drones in the ecosystem makes for a great way to monitor protected areas, collect data in inaccessible regions, and even deter poachers in some places.
Having these unmanned aviation vehicles at their disposal, ecologists could use them to fly through various species’ environments taking videos and pictures of natural habitats, nests, groupings, and more, without invading their territory or scaring them away from their homes forever.
Another scare for ecologists trying to study animals and the environment is poachers. In many areas poachers have not been warred off completely, and these hunters are secretly pursuing the same animals as ecologists, but for a whole different reason. These armed men make the environment not only dangerous for the animals, but dangerous for the people observing them as well. If a poacher were unable to identify a human when firing, someone could end up injured or even dead. By using drones to gather information rather than the physical presence of a person, the danger of being injured on the job drops significantly.
Many scientists are also taking an interest in deforestation, biodiversity, and landscape changes in developing countries. The equipment needed to monitor things like this are expensive and hard to come by, not to mention the fact that the information is time consuming to collect. The possibility of using drones to survey the land would bring both the cost and time down significantly.
This idea is being thrown around by researchers from the University of Adelaide and Liverpool John Moores University. The drone they have in mind would only cost $2,000 but would be able to take photos and videos of the land that would help researchers create land maps, monitor illegal poaching, and track animal populations.
Researches are now looking to nature to make drones even more usable in everyday life and around the world. There are many things about drones that make them difficult to use outside of an ideal situation:
- They are large enough to make it difficult to fly around in urban areas.
- They are not conducive to extreme elements such as temperatures, textures where they must take off or land, or even adverse weather like rain and wind.
To solve these problems, researchers have observed nature: snakes, birds, bats, and even small insects. They want to create many microrobots that can then work in tandem to perform tasks.
These microdrones, once perfected, will be able to do numerous helpful things: they can be used for surveillance, land and animal surveying, pollination in farms, search and rescue efforts, and more!
Because of the extreme demand for food in the United States, many farms have become automated. There are GPS-guided tractors and automated milking robots. What’s next in agriculture? Hopefully, the use of drones in surveying the vast amounts of land farmers use. The drones will be used to detect areas that are doing well and areas that need some tender loving care, areas in which the watering system is not working as well, places that need to be harvested, and more.
The use of drones in farming and agriculture is the next step to producing even more food at a quicker pace and with more accuracy than ever before.
With so many opportunities for drones to make a difference in the world, it seems strange to think that even more ideas are still being thought of. While they may not be at the forefront of research at the moment, the following concepts have been considered by many as future ways we may end up using the drone:
- Early Warning Systems for natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and more.
- Missing Persons Drone that can, like a dog, sniff out scents of the person while also surveying areas with an eidetic camera.
- Real Time Statistics Drone that can give stats like air quality, traffic reports, and human behavior reports.
- Medical Prescription Delivery - a plausibly popular use for the elderly that are unable to drive anymore.
- Direct From the Farm Produce Delivery - drones would be able to deliver the freshest crops straight from the farm right to people’s doorsteps.
- Geological Surveying - an easier way to spot oil and mineral deposits.
- Personal Trainer Drones - they get you up in the morning and guide you through a workout.
- Runner’s Metabolism Tracker - see what happens to athlete’s bodies in real-time.
- As well as hundreds of other ideas found here.
- Jonathan B