Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, as the name implies, is an aircraft that is unmanned by a human pilot; some of them are operated remotely by a human operator, or fully controlled by computers programmed within. Drones came into fame (or infamy) for its use in military operations, notably in the Middle East, in recent years. However, civilian owned and operated drones now outnumber military drones, with sales in the millions and counting. Civilian drones are most widely used in photography or video applications, taking advantage of some of the most technologically advanced cameras around. The complex engineering of drones ensures that they do not come cheap; however, newer, more affordable models are coming out that are within the range of hobbyists who want to get into drone photography. That being said, the possibilities of using civilian drones for purposes other than photography are endless. Here are just some of a few examples of how drones can be used in the future.
Search and Rescue Operations
Drones have been tested out on search and rescue operations; drones equipped with high-definition cameras have been and will continue to be used in the future. There is great potential for research and development in this field for drones, as it should lessen the loss of human casualties engaging in perilous search and rescue operations in the event of a calamity.
Drones as a pest control device? Absolutely. An enterprising firm in Louisiana has pioneered the use of drones with a thermal camera attachment to hunt for feral pigs that are causing widespread devastation to farms all over the state. How it works is that the drone provides a live feed to the exterminator; with the aid of night-vision goggles and the visual aid by the drone’s attachment, the exterminator’s work is made easier. Although there will always be ethical questions as to whether this is actually fair in the context of hunting, its effectiveness in thinning the feral hog population, which is a bane to many farmers, is promising.
Mail and Package Delivery
This is very distinct possibility in the future. Already efforts are underway for commercial use of drones in such iterations, such as beer delivery; a company in South Africa is pioneering an application that they say can deliver beer by drone within five minutes by the use of GPS positioning on the customer’s part, and the drone parachuting (no kidding) a cold one right on the customer’s hand. On the other hand, MIT is developing a light drone in order to be able to deliver medicine and other medical supplies to remote areas, or war-torn areas, lessening risk in the process.
Oil/Gas Pipeline Aerial Inspections
With the power of the cameras attached to drones, it is perhaps no surprise that drones are being slated to take over monitoring of miles and miles of oil and gas pipelines; this prevents the risk of oil spills, for which oil riggers are fined heavily for, from occurring in the first place. Relying on unmanned aerial vehicles also replaces much of the dangerous work that oil rig workers expose themselves to.
As you can plainly see, the possibilities are endless; although the question of regulatory approvals are daunting, it is only a matter of time before drones lead a revolution of unmanned aerial technology. The next wave of new technologies is right in front of us – what an interesting time to be alive.