Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or flying Drones. Whatever you choose to call these fiendishly clever devices is still in the development stage. These UAVs will revolutionize the way we do things in our personal and business world.
Most people think of drones as spy devices. While this is true of many military drones and police applications, it is certainly not the whole story of how and why drones are being developed. Once upon a time, people thought of smart phones as spy technology.
Like smart phones, drones will work for us. We will use these in as many applications as there are people to think of ways to use new technology. A remote control drone is easy to operate, gets into places people can't go and are efficient robots that work tirelessly night and day to serve their purpose. Besides that, they are fun!
Kit drones are commercially available to anyone who wants one. If you can think beyond their purpose as a toy remote control device, the business use of a drone is nearly unlimited. This is a chance to get in on the ground floor of a developing technology that will change the world (again). Don't you wish you had invested in wireless technology?
Drones Over America: A Booming Business in North Dakota? | The New York Times
Drone Use Number 1 - Atmospheric Monitoring:
Commercial uses for drones are almost unlimited. A line of drones with specific capabilities will be designed for individual uses such as atmospheric monitoring.
The air quality drone will be able to fly to any point in the vertical atmosphere and take air sample readings transmitting them to a ground computer for monitoring.
This will be most helpful to air quality managers, the EPA, factory emissions quality control manager and more.
Scientist will be able to monitor air quality throughout the atmosphere that we live in. It will be helpful to map out the areas that need cleaning.
Air quality will be a real estate benefit, showing people where to live to avoid high allergen counts or heavily polluted communities to avoid.
Drone Use Number 2 - Search and Rescue:
As mentioned in the video, many people would love to see drone technology used for search and rescue operations. After a disaster, there is much difficulty in locating survivors and getting to them in order to help.
The roads may be washed out, the floods may not have receded, the debris field may hide trapped survivors, but a drone can be equipped with ultraviolet cameras or infrared cameras or whatever may be needed to find victims in the event of a major disaster.
With the aid of smart phones and GPS, locating survivors would be so much easier. A rescue boat or helicopter could be dispatched to the exact area of need. Even two way communication would be possible with a drone.
Drone Use Number 3 - Hunting and Ranching:
One of the most beneficial uses for unmanned aerial vehicles to the American public would be a drone used for hunting, ranching and farming. Imagine locating a deer blind exactly where it is best for hunting deer. Manage wildlife or feed your family. Maybe even find BigFoot!
Find wild animals exactly like boat captains find fishing grounds. Through the use of infrared cameras, herds can be located in remote areas that are inhospitable to humans. Ranchers could find lost calves or other lost animals. Wildlife management would be made a lot easier.
Farmers can monitor their crops or find sources of water for livestock. Land use can be mapped and planned. Feral animals, like wild hogs (which ruin crops), could be managed.
Drone Use Number 4 - Environmental Monitoring:
Drones can be sent down a river, over industrial waste ponds, along beaches and lakes and other ground locations to monitor what is going on with pollution or toxic waste. Special sensors could be attached to detect radiation, sewage or other contaminants.
Just as monitoring our air is important, so is the constant vigilance of our earth and water. UAVs could spot trouble spots much easier and faster than we can.
NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration - U.S.A.) is already doing a good job of monitoring our lakes, rivers and seas, but a lower flying drone could probably sample the water in question and bring it back for analysis.
Drone Use Number 5 - Endangered Species Monitoring
Habitat Management Officer, Wildlife Conservation Officer, Natural Resource Manager, Ranger, Ecologist, Biologist. Theses are some of the career titles for those who work to manage endangered species of animals.
These people must monitor remote habitats and the animals themselves. Many times this involves trapping the animal and tagging it in some way to transmit signals to a recording device. A drone could simply shoot a dart or some other type of tagging device, thereby eliminating the necessity of catch and release.
There is a new technology that paints a target for monitoring with an invisible marker. Endangered animals could easily be found and monitored by UAVs. They are small, non-intrusive and great for jobs like this.
Here in Texas we have several wildlife management areas, such as the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. It's located in the Hill Country area of Texas, near Lake Travis. UAVs blend in with the environment and don't scare the animals so much.
Drone Use Number 6 - Highway Monitoring:
The U.S.A., Texas (and other countries) is one huge collective massive road way. Not only do we need to monitor the roads and roadwork, there are bridges, intersections, encroaching structures and natural disasters all along the vast network.
The highway department could use drones to check for weak areas, destroyed areas, unsafe bridges and monitor traffic. There are probably many more highway issues that need to be addressed that we don't even know about. Animal crossings for instance.
An entire industry could be built on using UAVs to monitor our roads. All of the current road cameras and traffic cameras should be tied together to set up a searchable grid. The drones could monitor larger areas in rural communities and send the information back to a central data base.
Drone Use Number 7 - Photography
We already use blimps for sports photography, now the UAV is appealing to all photographers as a tool for sending their camera into places that cannot be reached.
The only limit to UAV photography would be the user's imagination. It's not just for sports, but as you can see in the video, the UAV can be sent just about anywhere. Think of the possibilities:
Drone Use Number 8 - Real Estate Sales
Real Estate agents started using aerial photography with balloons over 30 years ago. Now they have a better, faster mode of photography with the unmanned aerial vehicles. These little gadgets are getting bigger, faster, stronger and more user friendly.
Even individual home shoppers are using them to scout out the neighborhood they are thinking of moving into. There are issues about privacy, and this application for UAVs is initiating legislation on the use of drones in communities.
Drone Use Number 9 - Border Patrol
The U.S. border patrol has been setting up remote cameras all across the borders for years. They are easily disabled by the usual suspects however. A drone monitor is a much harder target to hit.
Drones are cheap enough to use across the whole border. Blimps have been used, but they are slow and large. Small, lightweight, nimble and functional drones are proving to be superior to anything else on the market for monitoring specific areas.
Drone Use Number 10 - Tracking Criminals
Why use an expensive helicopter to track a running suspect? A drone can be launched directly from a patrol car on scene and used to track suspects avoiding capture. These lightweight and relatively inexpensive quadricopters could be placed in the trunk of a police car and used during foot chases.
Some clever neighborhood watch groups are now using drones to spot criminal behavior in the area and getting evidence to report to police. Stolen bikes and home invasions may soon be a thing of the past.
Drone Use Number 11 - Lost and Found
As sad as it is, there are a number of times that drone technology could be put to good use to find missing children. When a toddler inadvertently wanders off, a drone could immediately begin to search a grid to find the child.
This eliminates the need for search groups to be organized too quickly. It often takes many man hours to put together and instruct a search group comprised of civilians.
This same type of drone could be used to try to find lost pets, especially if the pet has an RFID collar or chip.
Drone Use Number 12 - Home Security and Defense
If you put some of the uses for UAVs together, you have the perfect recipe for home security. Sure, mounted camera can set off alarms and photograph suspects, but they can't chase the perps down and get their location.
If a home owner kept a drone ready to launch, it might even be equipped with paint ball darts, pepper spray or stun gun technology to thwart the would-be thief in their tracks. This would be better than having a dangerous gun laying around the house.
Maybe this is something a neighborhood watch patrol could use.
Legal Issues for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the power to regulate the air space over the United States. They state:
"Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) come in a variety of shapes and sizes and serve diverse purposes. They may have a wingspan as large as a Boeing 737 or smaller than a radio-controlled model airplane. Regardless of size, the responsibility to fly safely applies equally to manned and unmanned aircraft operations."
Clearly, the FAA has the power to regulate aerial drone technology. They have posted a fact sheet about the use of UAVs and anyone attempting to use UAVs should familiarize themselves with the policies and regulations.
Each UAV operator should get a certification license to operate any remote control flying vehicle.
Commercialization of Aerial Systems
Which commercial application do you think has the best chance of being successful?
Please send comments and questions or more information to Austinstar. We will post comments that are appropriate on this page.