Fantastically futuristic, Amazon has already announced its plan to launch the ‘Prime Air’ service that will deliver lightweight items to your door by drone in under 30 minutes. Though we do not have an exact date yet, the thought of drones replacing mail vans feels like the future has arrived early. Amazon are not alone in this innovation, it looks like the fast food industry is getting even quicker with Domino’s, Yo Sushi and Taco Bell all experimenting with drone delivery as a more time and more cost efficient service (the latter’s test drone is brilliantly called the Tacocopter). Whilst an Icelandic food delivery platform, AHA, has partnered with Flytrex to make the first ever successful drone-delivered food service (though it is based over a relatively small area in Reykjavik).
Though a pastoral farming scene and Silicon Valley may appear to be opposite worlds, the two actually enjoy a very close relationship. The ability of drones nowadays to carry more weight, means that they can be used in lieu of tractors to spread fertilisers and other products over crops in a far more efficient and targeted manner. This is great for reducing waste (by up to 20%) but also for helping the environment by reducing the amount of chemicals that run into rivers etc.
Their agricultural prowess does not end there, their surveillance properties are highly useful for spotting crop disease and the movements of livestock (think sheep scattered over large areas).
Undoubtedly, drones have evolved dramatically from their initial use as military equipment, these days it would be easy to argue that one of their greatest achievements (and indeed areas of potential) is the contribution they have made to environmental conservation. Here are a few ways they have helped…
Primarily, they give environmentalist the means to study endangered species - in both the plant and animal kingdoms - in a non-invasive way. When the most extraordinary creatures are so often situated in extreme environments, drones are also highly useful for allowing people to monitor the creatures without the time consuming effort of travelling to their location.
On top of this, drones have proved themselves invaluable in the effort to eliminate the poaching of endangered animals on both land and sea. Drones have been used to prevent the illegal hunting of whales across the world, by being able to scan huge areas of water very quickly and follow known schools of whales as they pass to guarantee their safety. On land too, their thermal imaging technology has proved very useful in identifying poachers at night.
As i have mentioned drones were initially developed by the military, so it is unsurprising therefore that they should have been adopted by the police as well. Though the general public have called for restrictions on the use of drones by the police - especially for surveillance purposes (issues with rights to privacy here), there are several ways that they can be used for the general betterment of the justice system.
First among these is use in monitoring traffic incidents, crime scene footage and hostage situations - thermal imaging can identify the real number of people involved.
Already drones are being used in response to human crises, the first examples being from as far back as Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 and in Haiti in 2012. Last year, however we really saw the extent of this take off (pardon the pun) as they were adopted on mass to help contain the damage wreaked by Hurricane Irma in the US.
They are incredibly useful for search and rescue, delivering supplies, medicine and aid to areas that cannot safely be reached by humans and even identifying and tackling forest fires.
In the aftermath of disaster, the ability of drones to 3D map a city can be vital in the rebuilding process.
Several construction industries have adopted the use of drones for crucial maintenance and building work. They are especially useful in industries that are functional in extreme environments that make human access difficult. Drones can monitor sites like oil rigs and large solar panel areas far more time and cost efficiently than humans and they can make targeted repairs possible.
They are also highly useful for delivering materials to where they are needed, surveying land on building sites and for security.
Journalists were in the fore, when it came to realising the value of drones commercially - finally a camera that truly gave them access to celebrity’s gardens! But seriously, being able to cpture events as they unfold revolutionises the experience of news coverage. No longer are the public recipients of reported news, they can actually be involved in an almost interactive manner as they watch live events unfold in front of the. In terms, of global connectivity this is huge but it will also adds a lot of texture to historical evidence as well.
We have already discussed how drones can save lives and the planet, but their abilities do not seem to end there. Enthusiasts in the US have recently pioneered choreographed drone light shows that could be on track to replace fireworks as a less explosive, though equally captivating alternative.
Additionally, we will shortly be seeing drones used in outdoor film. They will suspend projector screens and projectors themselves in the sky bringing a whole new meaning to pop-up cinema.
Written by: Flora Dallas
Flora Dallas is a content writer for Fat Lama the world’s fasted growing peer-to-peer rental platform, specialising in drone and camera hire. The platform aims to provide a more cost effective solution to buying items outright, giving users the potential to ‘try before they buy’ and lenders the chance to monetise their unused possessions fully insured.