The FAA predicts there will be 7 million drones registered in the US by 2020. While over half of the drones flying today belong to hobbyists, the rest are owned by private enterprise and various government agencies.
However, despite their popularity, drones are a controversial tech. Opponents argue they're unsafe and cite a litany of unethical uses. They can, for example, cause plane crashes, go rogue and attack pedestrians, become hijacked and used for unsavory purposes like illegal drugs and of course, the personal privacy concerns. The good news is that some enterprising consumers and hobbyists are finding new, innovative ways to use drones. Here are the top six surprising uses.
Parts of the world are cut off from air drops due to fighting and other dangerous situations which are stopping people from getting the food aid putting entire populations at risk. As well, there are other places that aircraft simply cannot reach. Currently, a team of volunteers from the US is working to develop drones to deliver food and air to areas where humans and airlifts can't.
One project in the works is a single-use drone that is, itself, the food. Once the drone arrives, recipients can easily break apart the lightweight wooden frame and use it to fuel a fire for warming the remainder of the drone. The wings will be packed with prepackaged food. The surface of each wing will be covered in a "salad bowl" material says Nigel Gifford of Windhorse Aerospace, the company that is designing the crafts.
Drones are aiding in the search, rescue, and recovery efforts. An international group, Search With Aerial Rc Multirotor or SWARM, responds to the needs of the families of missing persons. Another group, Texas Equusearch, a mounted search, and rescue group has also been using drones to locate missing persons or their remains. Alpine rescue groups have used drones across the world to search for lost hikers and avalanche victims and survivors.
Are drones able to deliver organs and body parts? Recently, the United Arab Emirates launched a competition called "Drones for Good" with a $1 million prize for the proposal utilizing drones in the most helpful ways imaginable, the betterment of society. Last year, 20 finalists were chosen with ideas that ranged from food and aid delivery, search and rescue, to health-related applications like using drones to deliver organs to people requiring transplants. Spoiler alert: The organ distribution proposal did not win the cash prize. But it piqued the interest of a Chinese company, which recognized the commercial potential and quickly drew plans to manufacture a fleet of medical transport drones.
In the US, the first government-approved drone delivery of medication and supplies occurred in 2015, at a rural Appalachian clinic. Matthew Sweeny, the CEO of Flirtey, the company involved in the landmark delivery says that drone delivery does provide the fastest, most reliable method to deliver emergency supplies.
Sure you can mount cameras around the periphery of your home, but there will always be blind spots that burglars will use to rob you blind. You can protect your family, prevent home invasions and garage break-ins with these tips:
With government cutbacks hitting the postal service in recent years, the idea of using drones for mail delivery has received increased attention. Other developed nations, including France, are already using drones to deliver mail and lightweight packages
The drone is certainly one of the more misunderstood and unfairly maligned technologies of the last several years. But this list proves that drones are a powerful, useful, and helpful technology.