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8 Unusual Uses for Aerial Drones

Aerial drones are a hot topic at the moment – with very mixed views on the ‘eye in the sky’ robots. In this article we look at eight current uses for the ever popular gadgets:

1. Drug smuggling

The drug cartels of Mexico never stop re-inventing trafficking routes. Some have created drones – the new drug mules – that can carry up to 100KGs of the white stuff! Apparently that nets them a cool $2,000,000 per trip! Recently a UK gang were found guilty of smuggling drugs, mobile phones and even a Freeview box (is prison TV really that bad?) into prison cells across the UK.

2. UK government & spying

The MOD have used drones for a long time now. With huge levels of secrecy to the collected information from the UAV’s, they have refused to offer any insight to its drone policies & use to date. This is all due to change very soon thanks to new Freedom of Information Act policies.a

But what about the positive things drones can achieve? Are they really so deserving of negative publicity, or are there big benefits to their aerial abilities?

3. Journalism

Reporters risk their lives to bring us current news in war zones, terrorist & disaster areas . Drones can cover TV footage without putting the reporters in direct lines of fire. It’s certainly a controversial area, but as it stands drones are becoming a ‘must have’ tool for news teams & journalists.

4. Environmental research

Helicopters and airplanes have traditionally been used to monitor & collate information on wildlife & agriculture. Drones can now do many of the functions at a much lower cost in fuel, equipment & man hours – They are also far more accurate on the data that they collect & a more environmentally friendly resource.

In 2014 a terrifying 1,293 rhinos were poached for ivory. Since then thermal cameras & drones are now used to track poachers & alert Park Rangers, cutting poaching by over 60%.

Vineyards have combatted the recent droughts in California with thermal drones to highlight where water is needed most,and reporting where crops have ripened early – giving a better harvest, saved water & reduced costs.

5. Lifeguarding

In Chile, drones are now equipped as ‘lifeguards’ that can get to a person in distress 7 times faster than a human – that can be a life or death difference.  They are equipped with buoyancy floats, microphones, camera & speakers enabling immediate situation assessment

Drones can survey areas much faster than a life boat, at a much reduced cost & with far less emissions. They can also spot sharks & predators from the sky, enabling safer beach control – again, potentially saving lives.

6. Mountain rescue

Searching for people lost or missing on mountains, with fast changing hostile environments is expensive, dangerous & sometimes impossible. Sending drones, equipped with video & thermal cameras, microphones & speakers can locate a stranded person much faster than helicopters & crews. The drone pilot can communicate through the on-board mic to assess the situation, then deploy the necessary rescue team & equipment more accurately.

7. Disaster areas & Location Guidance

Aerial robots play their part here too. In the Nepal’s recent natural disaster, drones assessed accessible routes & created maps that emergency services could use accurately in their rescue missions.

8. Sporting Events, Film & Concerts

The U.S. Open, Yaght racing, skiing & motorsport. You name it – its now being filmed by drones. Next time you sit down to ER, East Enders or Corry, or that newly released blockbuster – you can guarantee that there will be a drone in the air filming a part of it.

Drones, like any new technology can and will be exploited by some, however they can also save time, money, and improve the environment. More importantly  they can, & do save lives.

Next time you see a drone at the beach, ski resort, on a country walk or while visiting an historic monument, think that it’s probably doing a job to help benefit us, our lives, and the environment.

Like anything if it’s used properly and safely…

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