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Ways Businesses Are Utilizing Drone Helicopters – An infographic by the team at Think RC
Drones: They’re not just for 14-year-old boys or even just for more serious adult hobbyists. They’re also not just for the military or law enforcement. In fact, drones have piqued the interest of many a forward-thinking investor looking to advance a product or service of choice. Here are just a few of the ways that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) may be used in the very near future.
It might seem like something out of futuristic cartoons to most people, but the idea of UAV’s delivering consumer products is definitely much more than a fantasy or a figment of someone’s vivid imagination. In fact, Amazon has already envisaged its PrimeAir service as the most cost-effective and innovative way to bring products weighing under five pounds directly to consumers’ doorsteps. In a similar move, Australian start-up Flirtey has its eye on the student market, hoping to bring students’ textbooks directly to them, wherever they may be. And Flirtey is not stopping there. They have already been successful at using a drone to deliver medical goods to a free clinic in West Virginia. In upcoming years, Flirtey hopes to become world-renowned in the humanitarian aid delivery arena using UAV drones as a safe and cost-effective vehicle for bringing badly needed medicines to people in need.
If you have ever been to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you know how confusing it can be to navigate around its 168 acres, complete with maze-like buildings that can confound even veteran students and faculty. That’s where SkyCall comes in. Thanks to the innovations of some of their fellow future engineers and technology researchers, students simply download the SkyCall app onto their smartphones then contact it when help is needed. A friendly robot drone responds to the cell phone’s cry for help, with SkyCall even announcing landmarks along the way to the destination that is typed into the smartphone. Orientation to college campuses is just the beginning of the applications for a flying robot drone/ rescuer. This virtual tour guide could be used to orient users to even the most complicated places.
There’s nothing like getting a bird’s-eye view of the world, and that’s just what photography drones can do. SenseFly uses a drone that takes aerial photos and allows you to produce orthomosaics and 3D models at high resolutions. With this technology, large areas of land can be inspected from the air for the purpose of enhancing existing maps or even making new ones. Archaeologists, among other scientists and professionals, are finding this capability to be extremely useful. When it comes to photography, movies such as Peter Jackson’s series based on the books of J. R. R. Tolkien have benefited greatly from drone technology. For instance, a company called Media Pros used UAV’s to make heavy-duty cameras like the Red Epic airborne so that particularly compelling photos can be taken.
Farming is an incredibly labor- and time-intensive profession. Fortunately, drones can make some aspects of agriculture infinitely easier. A farmer can, for example, use one to assess the health of his crops by using color contrast to assess how much sunlight is going to his plants. Instead of trudging through acres of fields on foot to get a detailed view, the agriculturalist can simply look at a series of snapshots taken by the UAV, which can be sent to take pictures as many times as is necessary. Drones can also be used to track the movements of invasive insects over time, enabling a farmer to better monitor the well-being of his crops. Similarly, a UAV could assist gas and oil industry workers by pinpointing leaks and other hazards at a cost drastically less than would be paid to hire a helicopter and human pilot.
In an era when concerns about our dilapidated infrastructure are mounting, drones can play a huge part in assessing the need for repairs. As the “eyes” of civil engineers, they can be used to photograph structures such as bridges as well as to provide essential geospacial data crucial to the planning and implementing of large construction projects. The bottom line is that UAV’s can take much of the time and guesswork out of planning complex, long-term civil engineering projects.
Many of the major media outlets are becoming increasingly interested in using drones to gather news via high-resolution aerial photography. Standards have not yet been solidified due to ethical, safety and privacy concerns, but it seems likely that UAV’s will one day help to shape the news we access on our televisions and online.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org project is on a mission: to provide everyone in the world with affordable access to basic Internet services. In Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, solar-powered drones are being built that can stay in the air for up to five years, furnishing the power necessary to provide even the most remote parts of the world with access to the Internet.
Getting an aerial view of a landscape can make for some eye-catching photography, but that’s not all. If you are a biologist attempting to keep track of the population of a certain animal species, a picture is worth a thousand words. It can save a great deal of time as well. Quickly, safely and efficiently, UAV’s can be used to take pictures of large swatches of land and the animals that live on it. That makes projecting population numbers much easier. Over time, habitat and migration changes can also be chronicled.
UAV’s have distinct advantages over other forms of reconnaissance. In particular, they are inexpensive and replaceable. The same cannot be said for human workers or military personnel. In dangerous situations including natural disasters and wars, it is far more humane and cost-effective to send drones into a region to gather information about troop movements or earthquake victims than it would be to send humans into the mix.