In the past few years, drones have become much more popular thanks to the versatility, fun and endless potential they offer. You may think that they are just for filming or racing and, although they are used for these, there are so many more uses for drones that you may not know about. Although some people are worried that the rise of drones will have a negative effect on the world, the amount of services that they can provide make them extremely valuable and a key part of our future. They are being utilised all over the world, in completely different ways and we are here to find out what they are doing and possibly what they will be doing soon.
The first use that may surprise you is how agricultural drones are becoming more and more popular. There are studies out there claiming that farmers using agricultural drones can save millions and millions of dollars. With such incredible savings, it is no surprise to see why they are becoming more common, especially in South Africa where there is such a large agricultural market. Drones such as the Phantom 4 has the ability to provide thorough crop surveillance, thermal security, crop dusting and can even check the health of your produce.
Drone racing is not one of the more surprising uses, but what is surprising is the speed of which drone racing is growing in popularity. Starting as just a backyard hobby, there are now world championships held all over the globe being broadcast on prime sports TV networks, such as ESPN. When you watch a drone race you can instantly see why this is such an intense sport, from the speed of which they fly to the incredible skill a drone pilot has to have to navigate through the course. Not to mention that the racing drones are flown via a first person headset, making the skill even more intense. Exciting, thrilling and skilled, drone racing truly has everything you could want from a sport.
If a natural or man-made disaster occurs then drones are extremely useful at gathering information on what happened and checking if people are trapped. Thanks to their quiet flight they don’t drown out cries for help, unlike other machinery. Thanks to the drones thermal and high definition camera, agility, small size and radars, they can get extremely close to the disaster area without disrupting any possible debris which could cause more damage.
Cleaning up the Ocean
In the drone industry, there has been a new and exciting development. A small aquatic drone called the Waste Shark has been developed to help rid the ocean of rubbish. This incredible piece of technology can vacuum up 1100 pounds of floating trash to help keep the ocean clean. Roughly the size of a car, this aquatic drone has a 14-inch ‘mouth’ which collects the rubbish 24/7. Although it’s early days, if this drone proves to be as efficient as it could be, it could easily become the future of ocean cleaning.
Thanks to a drones stealthy ability they are able to be used in nature without spooking any of the animals. They monitor wildlife to not only gain more of an insight into certain animals behaviour but also to help look after them.
Amazingly, drones are now able to help prevent the poaching of animals, which has become a bigger problem recently. Animals such as elephants, lions and rhinos are being hunted every day which is causing their population to decrease dramatically. However, drones surveying these areas scare off possible poachers and help to protect the lives of these animals.
Drones with cameras attached or built-in can provide high-quality surveillance in areas where criminal activity is high. When crime scenes are too dangerous for police officers to enter, a drone with a camera can not only enter without being seen, but can also supply a live feed of what has happened or what is happening.
Similar to the 1996 hit film Twister where the characters launch tracking balls into the eye of the tornado to track it, drones are now being in this exact way. Flying directly into the storm, drones can now provide us with new and exciting insights into their behaviour. This can then help to track exactly where it’s going, meaning people can be warned ahead of time to prepare their homes and stay safe.
As drones have become more popular, so has the art of drone photography. The majority of drone cameras can now all shoot in HD which means they are able to capture breathtaking shots that could not have been taken before. Not only are these shots being used for recreation, but they are also being used commercially now as more and more companies are seeing the potential they have. Incredible developments from DJI have meant their drones, such as the Phantom 4 and Mavic pro are being used more and more to capture fantastic shots, all over the world.
Film and TV
In the same way companies are utilising a drone’s cameras ability, so are film and TV productions. Making their way into big budget Hollywood movies such as Skyfall and The Wolf of Wall Street, drone cameras can add spectacular shots and make certain film sequences much easier to film. There are some great examples of how drone cameras have filmed fantastic sequences here.
Airlines such as EasyJet are currently testing drones to see if they are able speed up aircraft checks. Currently done by trained engineers, these drones would not only have to be just as efficient and thorough as the engineers, but also much quicker for this to be worthwhile, as most people would be more confident with a person checking the safety rather than a drone.
Delivery / Food Delivery
Out of all the uses for drones, delivery seems to be the most popular. Huge companies such as Amazon, DHL and Uber are looking at developing their own drones to deliver parcels and food without the risk of traffic delays. Amazon has recently just won the patent for a flying warehouse able to deploy delivery drones and Uber are looking at developing self-flying drone taxis. Although both ideas are still in very early stages, the skies could look very different within the next 10 years.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly announced his plan to bring internet access to the world through a drone called the Aquila. Not just Facebook, but Google and Amazon are also looking into drone internet possibilities as the possible future of internet connection. The Aquila has completed a successful test flight and if it carries on to pass all of its tests it could pave the way for the future of internet connectivity.
A more surprising but incredibly innovative use of drones is to help the prevention of disease. Microsoft are currently testing drones for medical purposes, not to vaccinate people, but instead to stop people in advance from getting sick. This would work by the drone being equipped with bug collection technology and flying into areas where disease is easily spread. The bugs would then be brought back for testing where they could be analyzed to eventually predict future outbreaks. If this becomes successful it could save thousands and thousands of lives.
Military drones are used to help save lives by being able to fly into areas of extreme danger without having to send soldiers. Used as both surveillance and a weapon, military drones have saved many lives since their first mission many years ago. They also have the capability to successfully complete highly dangerous search and rescue missions in all kinds of terrain.