It’s official – robots are taking over the world, or at least, the skies!
What once was used primarily for military purposes has gone commercial – and now, drone usage is exploding in popularity with hobbyists –and companies alike, that are keen to cash in on some of the business opportunities that drones are opening up.
While it may be a few years before we see drones taking over jobs en masse, there’s no doubt about it –unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are making it simple for us to do many things that were once time-consuming, expensive, or even downright impossible. Drone usage has gone beyond selfies and snagging that ultimate aerial wedding photo, to more interesting and – perhaps odd – uses.
For better or worse –here’s a look at a few crazy ways that drones are being used today –in no particular order.
1 – Chasing Canadian Geese
What’s black and white and flies all over? The “Goosebuster” –a 26 inch drone that’s on a mission to clear Canada’s capital of the Canada goose. While the birds are beloved by many, they can wreak havoc on parks –something that Steve Wambolt –the Goosebuster’s creator, is on a mission to stop. He’s currently building a fleet of drones –complete with speakers that blast the sounds of predatory birds, as well as strobe lights, to be flown from strategic stations around Ottawa –in a bid to herd the birds out of the parks, and keep the country’s capital free from droppings.
2 – The Burrito Bomber
A company known as Burrito Bomber has outlined plans to be the first Mexican food drone delivery service. Order up your tacos through the app, and the drone will drop your goods to you, via parachute. Although the concept was tasty, sadly, there’s no word if it ever got off the ground. Still, we can dream can’t we? And we may be able to expect food delivery at some point in the near future –rumor has it Domino’s pizza delivery drone trials are expected to take place in New Zealand sometime this year.
3 – Synchronized Entertainment
In 2015, Intel launched 100 drones for a synchronized light show –and set a new world record. Following that spectacular performance, they set their sights even higher –with the aim of having 500 neon-lit drones, dancing, twirling, and flying in formations across the night sky –something that they pulled off with remarkable success in 2016. Flight planning software was used to plot the display –and give each UAV its cue. The result? A spectacular performance that would rival even the most spectacular fireworks show! And Disney agrees!
4 – Drone Air Shows
The world’s first drone circus took place in the Netherlands in 2015 –with hundreds of UAVs taking to the sky. Teaming up with the Royal Netherlands Air Force, the AIR 2015 event was the first aerial 3D entertainment show of its kind –with hundreds of drones, lasers, and projectors involved in a dazzling display of aerial stunts, music, video, projections, and special effects. The concept of using drones for entertainment is hardly new –but the combination of technology, effects, and lights highlights the tremendous potential for amazing and spectacular light shows in the future.
5 – Pokémon GO
If using drones sounds like it defeats the point of Pokémon GO, it’s because it does. It also could be classified as cheating, if you are keeping track. The great thing about Pokémon GO is that it motivates kids and adults alike to get off the couch and go outside. But one clever gamer found a way to bend the rules. By strapping his phone to a drone, he was able to catch ‘em all, without ever having to leave his couch. Don’t tell the kids about this one!
6 – Drone Paintball Capture the Flag
Drone paintball capture the flag? Why not! One man’s clever idea for a game of drone paintball capture the flag –just might take off! The plan was to use drones for surveillance in an effort to try to capture the flag off of the opposing team. Or, you could take things a step further and mount a paintball gun directly to the drone for an especially exciting game –like these folks did.
7 – Drone Racing
In July of 2016, 100 racer drones took to the skies –piloted by student pilots who participated in the Liberty Cup for the US National Drone Racing Championships. The students researched and built their own drones, and then raced them while wearing “first person view” goggles that allowed them to experience the race as if they were inside of the UAV itself –all from the safety of the ground. While drone racing has been an amateur sport in Australia since late 2014, it seems the rest of the world is just now starting to catch on.
8 – Map Making
Drones can reach hard or impossible-to-access areas, giving enthusiasts and professionals alike a chance to create extremely detailed maps. These maps can benefit military and government offices, as well as small companies and individuals alike –imagine how much easier it would be to chart a hiking course if you could foresee potential obstacles before you start?
9 – Storm Tracking and Forecasting
Giving you the thrill of storm chasing, without all of the danger, UAVs make it possible to safely go into the heart of a storm. Both enthusiasts and NASA have been using drones for storm tracking and monitoring for years. In October 2016, NASA even flew an almost-15,000 pound drone over Hurricane Matthew. The drone was used to drop several devices called “dropsondes” –into the storm –which collected weather data as they fell from the sky. Drones would have made Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton’s job studying Twisters so much easier!
10 – Rapid Response Drones – Saving Lives!
Drones saving lives may seem like a bit of a stretch, but that’s exactly what one engineering graduate has in mind. Alec Momont, who graduated from Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands created a rapid response drone that’s able to fly at speeds of 60 mph to deliver a defibrillator to assist heart attack victims who are in need of first aid. Time matters during a heart attack –and a fast response time can greatly increase the chances of recovery. “…Brain death and fatalities occur within four to six minutes,” says Momont. “The ambulance drone can get a defibrillator to a patient inside a 12 km zone within one minute. This response speed increases the chance of survival following a cardiac arrest from eight percent to 80 percent.” While this drone is yet to be tested on real patients, Momont believes that in a few years, his drone will be in use –and several medical sector bodies have already expressed interest in his project.
What does the future hold for drones? A better question would be –what doesn’t it hold? With so much potential for commercial and personal use alike –things can only go up from here! Expect to see a lot more drone action –and quite possibly more FAA regulations, as a whole new generation of UAVs takes to the skies!
What’s your favorite use for drones?
Derek Waleko is CEO of Up Sonder, the first on-demand drone and service rental platform powered by UberRUSH, specifically designed for drone pilots and drone owners to earn extra money.