http://www.supercompressor.com – By Joe McGauley
Drones get a get bad rap. Yes, they’ve enabled some next-level Big Brother surveillance and yes, they’re employed to conduct absolutely terrifying bombing campaigns, but like a troubled, maligned starlet, everyone really wants to see them change for the better.
Here are the eight ways unmanned aerial vehicles can and should be used to spread good. Keep reading if you care about pizza and/or saving all the animals.
1. Bring people back to life
As rapid as a normal 911 response is, there are plenty of medical emergencies that must be dealt with during the 10 minutes it takes an ambulance to arrive. Enter the Ambulance Drone, a recently unveiled concept designed to zoom to the GPS coordinates of an emergency call with a load of EMS-standard supplies, including a defibrillator. It’s also equipped with a microphone and speakers so a medical professional on the other end can provide simple instructions to revive or stabilize a victim. Less dead people = good thing.
2. Put out wildfires
It’s no surprise that fighting a raging forest fire is both wildly dangerous and seriously complicated. Flames flare up unexpectedly, conditions change rapidly, and communication to people on the ground gets mucked up in thick clouds of smoke. That’s where the drones come in, collecting and sending info on wind conditions up close in real time. Down the road, they may even help snuff flames out themselves with robotic precision.
3. Save the planet
Starting in 2013, NASA began sending remote-controlled planes filled with monitoring equipment to the edge of the atmosphere to do some unprecedented measurements on the thickness of the tropopause—the fluid layer between the stratosphere and troposphere. Translation for those of us without degrees in atmospheric science: they’re checking to see how water vapor and ozone interact, and thus the possibility of retroactively curbing climate change.
4. Transport medical supplies to hard-to-reach locales
Around the world right now, over one billion people live without simple access to roads, which means over one billion people are potentially too remote to receive emergency aid. With the help of upstart drone companies like Matternet, though, that will all change. Its goal is to develop a network of reliable and easy to operate UAVs for organizations like Doctors Without Borders and other aid agencies to deliver urgent supplies in minutes, rather than days or weeks.
5. Deliver snacks
While much has been made of Amazon’s proposed drone delivery program (both good and bad), it’s hard to argue with the prospect of a delicious piping hot pie arriving in minutes wherever you happen to get hungry, with or without a physical address. So far, it’s been experimented with by a few mom and pop pizzerias around the world and even Domino’s in the UK. The future sounds delicious.
6. Make farmers more efficient
Like a protective parent, most farmers are all-consumed with the status of their crops’ health. Traditionally, that means surveying the growing fields with piloted aircraft or satellites, which can get expensive, fast. Having special agricultural drones outfitted to fly low and stream photos/videos, collect soil and water samples, and perhaps even serve as precision crop-dusters could be a game-changer when it comes to high-value crops.
7. Save all the animals
Keeping tabs on endangered species and environments has always been an immensely crucial and difficult gig for biologists and researchers in the field, but it could get a lot easier with help from an army of low-cost camera-equipped drones. By accessing treetops and other hard-to-reach areas without disturbing precious natural habitats the get a rare peek at the day-to-day goings on, like a bionic Jane Goodall. They’re also useful to track movements of hunters in places where poaching is a problem.
8. Entertain us
GoPros have made it easier than ever to capture kickass POV footage, but imagine how much more epic those wild and crazy stunts would look from the unique angle of a drone following every move? That’s exactly what the AirDog does. It’s an auto-stabilizing quadcopter with a camera mount designed to auto-track the movements of whoever’s wearing its tracker wristband.
Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor and is waiting for the day his morning coffee is delivered via drone.