12 Ways Drones Are Being Used: Are They Marvelous? Maleficent? Or Somewhere in the Middle?

Drones: Mighty or Menace?

Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) — most equipped with cameras and/or video capabilities, and various sensors  — fascinate me. They’re already being used in lots of unique ways, and the potential for future use grows all the time.

Here’s an overview:

Current Uses

1) Commercial photography

2) Traffic surveillance, reporting and control

3) Military action in unsafe areas

4) Government surveillance/spying

5)  Law enforcement (patrolling areas/surveillance, info gathering) and public safety

6) Search and rescue missions

7) Crop inspection, utility line inspection, power plant inspection, monitoring farm irrigation systems

8) Disaster response — dropping supply packages, going into unsafe areas

9) Environmental surveillance — protecting against abuses (dumping, etc.) and determining changes in the environment

10) Tracking beach erosion

11) Spotting brush fires

12) Recreation,  leisure and hobby activities

Potential Uses

1) Product delivery (by Amazon and other  — Amazon wants to deliver books and other merchandise by drone so customers receive them within hours of order placement — very interesting!)

2) Cloud seeding (to produce rain) by states suffering from extended droughts

3) Collecting large quantities of mosquitoes, then digitally analyzing them to provide early warnings about infectious diseases that could break out if climate change worsens (Microsoft’s research division plans to develop a prototype for drones to do this)

 Concerns

1) Privacy issues — drones may collect photos and other personal information about individuals

2) Safety issues — drones may cause airline accidents or injure people or property

3) Potential use for terrorist activities

4) Shortage of qualified drone operators — according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International

Regulation

Drones are heavily regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Bottom Line

Are drones marvelous or maleficent — or somewhere in the middle?

They’re definitely intriguing,  although I’d be happy to simply own a Roomba…

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