Drones are being used for many different jobs. They have applications in the medical field and logistics just to name two.Here is an artist's rendition of this from the ADELabs website to show their take on the use of drones. http://www.adelabs.com/blog/2016/1/4/incorporating-modern-geospatial-technology-in-logistics/
They now range in the air, under the sea, even inside volcanoes and tornadoes. Some fly, some crawl, while others walk and swim as well.
This brings to question of course what role will man, play in the coming years as drones can and will be taking jobs away from people currently doing them.
There is also the thought about people losing their curiosity to explore new venues and lose the drive that took men like Columbus, Darwin, and Livingston out on the frontiers to discover secrets of the world and its riches.
While you sit back and see what we have found for you, you might ponder these questions and their effects on your life, the world, and your career.
You are about to see through a kaleidoscope some of the many areas and applications that drones are and soon will be applied.
What you hear mostly is that Amazon is planning to use drones to deliver boxes to your door. This has caught the eye and imagination of the media and the average Joe on the street.
Recently the company Matternet was successful in Haiti in delivering 2.2-Kilo packages of urgently needed medical supplies. They are contracted with Amazon to develop a 30-minute delivery system for the Amazon Prime initiative. They have taken the first steps in the UK in partnership with the government there to deliver packages. Since 90% of Amazon's deliveries are less than 5 lbs. Drones are ideally suited for this kind of work.
However, the reality of drone delivery, besides the hype from Amazon, is more expansive than many are aware:
- Dominoes have already hired a company for delivering Pizza within a 4-mile radius in 10 minutes.
- DHL completed 130 free deliveries with their Parcelcopter.
- Australia, where drone laws are more lenient the bookseller Zookal is readying a 6-drone fleet to deliver books to its customers.
- China has a plan in place, as it is the largest maker of drones in the world now, to deliver packages. The company ShunFeng in Dongguan is already testing their system.
In fact, 42% of businesses who responded to a survey on drones are looking at the use of drones in their businesses in the next 15 years. Of course, it will depend on what the FAA decides on the use of drones in American skies before they shell out the bucks.
Disaster and Rescue
- 911 first responders in cities are looking at using drones to be sent to the locations of 911 calls to assess the situation before the First responder’s arrival. That way the People arriving will be aware of what's what before they get on scene and know what to expect.
- Forest Fires are now being spotted before they become too big to contain. Drones are now being equipped with firefighting retardant chemical to dump on possible points where fires are found. When caught early small fires are easily controlled before, they get out of hand. In the case of arson, the perpetrators can be recorded in the act to identify them and bring them to justice. Many wildfires where the result of carelessness or actual intent. Drones are now taking to the sky to help Smokey, the Bear in his never-ending fight against forest fires.
- Pepper Spray for crowd control is being used by drones in India to help break up riots and disturbances before they get out of hand.
- China has earmarked 3,000 drones to take the place of beat cops in urban centers in a country of over 1.2 billion people. These drones will be equipped with hearing, speech, and visual recognition systems.
- Their pilots will also be bilingual and be able to give directions to lost tourists who are visiting China in ever-increasing numbers.
- Cattle rustling, in North Dakota where drones are on the lookout for cattle thieves. Even in this day and age thousands of heads of cattle vanish off the range all over America. Drones can ride herd 24 hours and don't need any logistics support except a recharge every so often.
Exploration, ecological study, animal protection, and control
- Monitoring of deforestation in India is being monitored by drones in remote areas to help stop denuding the woodland by people who chop down trees indiscriminately for firewood.
- Monitoring Orangutan populations in Sumatra is being done above the green canopy that was formally impassable. This endangered species of apes can now be counted and protected as hunters and collectors are still poaching them.
- Poaching in Africa has taken on a warlike aura as Rangers are sending out kill teams to interdict poachers and they, in turn, are firing on park rangers with automatic weapons. Drones are hoped to give the Rangers the edge they need to save elephant and rhinoceros herds from becoming extinct in the illegal ivory and herbal medicine trades.
- Storm Chasers are using drones to go inside tornadoes and find out more about their creation, how to predict, and monitor their movements. Drones are seen as key to getting this done and saving thousands of lives and millions of dollars lost every year.
- Volcanic activity is watched now in a way never before possible. Drone pilots take their UAV into the mouths of live volcanoes and get footage not seen until now. They hope to discover when and if an eruption is about to occur and learn about the composition of the gasses released that may be affecting Global warming.
Drones are lost in these activities. This is as it should be. Better a drone be lost than an entire research team as was in the case of the Mount ST. Helens eruption in 1980 where 57 people lost their lives and a billion dollars in damages occurred.
- Whale watching can be risky to observers. With drones, that the Sperm Whales they hover over don't seem to mind can get in close to this behemoths and record their sounds and their habits. A future drone project will attempt to capture the spray from a whale’s blowhole for DNA testing. Drones don't cause the disturbances that a boat would cause. Probably due to the many years of being hunted by the Japanese and other countries that have ignored the ban on Whale hunting in places like the Antarctic breeding grounds
- Feral Hog control in North Carolina uses drones with night vision to locate the destructive and dangerous animals. They pinpoint the animals, and the hunter knows which way to shoot riding some areas of the damages to crops and property.
- Lighter than aircraft have been taking scientists over the dense Rainforest in the Amazon Basin. From them, giant nets are lowered down to rest on the canopy, which becomes an aerial raft of sorts and base camp to study the ecosystem, plants, animals, and insects that make up one of the most unexplored places still on the earth.
- Drones are now also taking an active part here and in other places where it is difficult or impossible for men to reach. From such outposts, drones go down to observe and record what they see.
- Off California, the ROV drone SuBastian is busily getting ready to start exploring underwater mysteries and aquatic animal, plant, and ocean conditions.
The Petrochemical Industry
- Pipeline monitoring is now carried out along the many miles of pipelines crisscrossing barren ground all over the world.
- SHELL Euro has been using drones at major power plants and reports success in averting potentially dangerous situations before they happen.
Crop Monitoring and related uses
- Crop dusting is an area that is actively being developed. Insects and plant disease are ruining megatons of grain every year.
- Drones are not only watching over crops, but some are being modified to carry pesticides to target infestations before they get out of hand. Like a surgeon's knife, they can weed out a diseased area or eliminate the start of insect problems before they spread.
- Chasing away Geese Is not thought of much by most. However, many small communities along their annual migration are inundated with bird droppings, and they kill small animals and render entire areas unusable. Now there is an answer. Drones that create the sounds of wolves are being used to drive errant geese away from inhabited areas back out into the wilds where they belong.
Building a Country's Infrastructure
- Rwanda is working on four drone ports right now, and it will help create the infrastructure in a country where there are less than 3,000 miles of paved roads. The country expects to reach a population of 2.2 billion by 2050.
- A network of drone hubs are being built in the country during the 2015-2016 time-frame along with four drone ports to centralize command and control. British companies are working in partnership to make it all a reality.
- The first phase is called the "Red Phase" is envisioned to deliver badly needed medical supplies to areas away from the urban areas and often without passable roads.
- The next phase will deal with government deliveries and another phase deals with parts and supplies to oil, ranching, and industrial concerns.
- This will create a flying infrastructure that takes the place of roads and railways in a country that have few or none in most of the country.
Military use and weaponization
The military is continually improving its drone fighting capabilities. The SWORD ground robot, which is an armed drone is expecting a host of siblings that are even now in development and testing covering land, air, on the sea, and under it. The first drone in space is sent up and what it does and why is still a mystery. The Chinese have a man shaped drone that is being readied for space as well. Of course, there are drones on the Moon and Mars as we speak.
China is planning on flooding the South China Sea with aerial, surface, and undersea drones to watch over the region that is disputed over by six countries and the US over natural resources and fishing rights.
This is probably the most ambitious application for drones yet and will require a massive infrastructure to support its deployment and maintenance.
Entertainment and reporting of the news
Many uses for drones are now being explored and exploited besides the obvious materialistic ones:
- New York will be holding its first Drone Film Festival in 2016
- Drone Wars are pitting one drone against another in an MMA style cage match format are being held.
- Drone Races such as the one just completed on Governor’s Island over a regulated course and in multiple events covering team competition, acrobatics, and obstacle flying.
- Keeping up with athletes is made easier with drones, as new software steadies the drone. Then a drone use video, sound that follows an athlete through their paces to bring you even closer to the action.
- Journalism has taken to drones like a duck to water. However, already issues over trespass and going places that are off-limits. Arrests and fines have already been levied against the Euro journalists, the BBC, and foreign journalists. American journalists seem to be slow on the uptake. Though it is expected "Drone Paparazzi" will be hitting the air anytime soon.
While doing the research for this article, the reviewer was reminded of some short stories and a series of novels from the golden age of Sci-Fi as well as a recent movie. They involved drones and their uses.
They dealt with the problems we are or will so face. “Call me Joe,” by Poul Anderson the pilot of an Avatar didn't want to come back to his human body after his mission. James Cameron, of course, shows this in the movie "Avatar."
In "Gottlos" by Colin Kapp, a drone pilot was so tightly linked with his drone, that when it was destroyed, experienced a state resembling death trauma. When he recovered, discovered his opponent was directly wired into his with shocking results.
Another story "Identification" by Christopher Anvil. Drones were miniaturized to the point they were the size of insects and could stop crime before it occurred. But, after being linked with the drone for so long their identity of being human started to blur from being human to a composite creature where being human was fading and turning into the drone was happening.
However, the one most resembling our world today is the Warbot series by G Harry Stine. It is almost a blueprint of the military use of drones today and forecast for the future by the Military.
So, while drones have a multitude of uses, people are going to use them in ways we cannot yet imagine, and we may change into a different being from the people we know today.