7 Interesting Ways Drones Are Being Used in 2016

Commercial Drones

This post originally appeared on http://tech.co/interesting-ways-drones-used-2016-08.

[Editor’s Note: Drones are being used in many industries, including Agriculture, Emergency Relief, Environmental Conservation and Infrastructure Maintenance.]

There’s a palpable frenzy of trepidation and excitement surrounding the subject of drones. On the one hand, they seem like amazing futuristic toys that we all hoped would one day be available. On the other hand, drones stand a chance to change the way entire industries work, and change is always met with resistance.

Despite uncertainty, drones are becoming more popular with both regular citizens and businesses alike. Companies like Google and Facebook are at the forefront of drone research, finding new ways to profit from the technology. Meanwhile, world governments aren’t far behind, using drones for jobs which have traditionally been dangerous or costly.

Here are just a few of the ways drones are revolutionizing the world, and what changes are still to come.

1. Agriculture

Over the next few generations, humanity is going to face a greater demand for food, and the greatest minds are currently scrambling to find a way to double and triple food output. One way to conserve time and energy farmers usually spend tending their plants is to use drones.

Drones are able to traverse acres of farm land in a fraction of the time people can. This saves farmers time checking on their fields, and is a more efficient way of rooting out problems before they ruin an entire crop. Infrared cameras attached to the drones can even identify sick plants that may have otherwise been missed.

2. Emergency Relief

Depending on where you are, emergency services may be quite far away. A snake-bite victim, for example, may be hours away from the anti-venom by vehicle or foot, but could be saved by a timely drone delivery within minutes of calling for help. Drones are being used like this to save lives by bringing relief before traditional emergency services arrive.

Imagine calling 911 because your friend is having a heart attack, and moments later a drone drops by with a defibrillator. This isn’t just science fiction- it’s already reality.

3. A Fresh Perspective

In the past, getting an overhead view of an event like a political rally or a sports game was a complicated affair. Helicopters, though expensive and inefficient, have been used, as well as complex wiring systems and special cameras. Drones make it realistic to catch the action of an event from above, and have more freedom of movement than any traditional alternative.

4. Parcel Delivery

While most people still have a lot of questions about drones, there’s no denying that the idea of receiving your parcel delivery more quickly and cheaply is endearing. 7-11, Dominoes, Amazon, and Walmart are just a few companies at the forefront of both the technology and legislation required to begin using drones for regular delivery.

5. Environmental Conservation

Environmental departments are notoriously understaffed and underfunded all over the world, yet the job of environmental stewardship is overwhelming. Drones can help here, too, aiding environmental agencies to monitor forest fires, volcanoes, water quality, weather, endangered species, and more. The possibilities are limitless as drones give a freedom of exploration which has been too expensive and dangerous in the past. As a result, we can tackle problems and plan for eventualities before they happen.

6. Discovering the Past

It’s clear drones can help us shape a better future, but they can also help us discover a lost past. To accomplish this, thermal cameras are attached to drones which fly over huge swaths of land. While the landscape cools at one rate, things like buried artifacts cool more slowly, showing a stark difference on the camera which couldn’t be perceived with the naked eye.

This doesn’t just work on buried spearheads and broken pots. A 1,000-year-old village was recently mapped in New Mexico thanks to the hard work of a drone. Implications for the future are promising, allowing archaeologists to make discoveries in less time with less environmental impact.

7. Infrastructure Maintenance

While many of us don’t think about it, there are millions of miles of electrical wire, plumbing, oil and natural gas pipelines, roads, and bridges, and none of them are built to last forever. Maintenance and surveying techniques have been inadequate in the past, requiring and individual to personally inspect dangerous pieces of infrastructure like crumbling bridges and damaged electrical lines.

Drones offer a safer and more effective solution. Like they will in agriculture, drones will allow potential problems to be spotted more quickly, and dealt with more effectively, than ever before.

A Peek at the Future

Drone technology is in its infancy, yet is still able to make positive impacts in almost every facet of life. Drones provide us with the opportunity to go places that were once off limits, and to see things beyond our own perception. Although it may take some time for people to become comfortable with the idea, the truth is, we can’t afford to deny the benefits drones present to humanity. Sooner rather than later, drones will become a common, and even welcomed, sight.

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