Alternative Uses of Drones

| April 26, 2015

Drones have reached the height of their popularity among the public, but what are some alternative uses to drones than just flying them at the park? There are a number of organizations and individuals that are using drones with unique and cutting edge differences to the drone hobbyists. As the technology, and reliability of mobile drones increase, so does the approach to using them to replace tasks that we might have never considered them to be used for. We will have to agree on a common standard for drone use ethics.

drones

drones

Warzone Aid Drones

Mark Jacobsen, who is a US Air Force pilot has come up with the novel idea to use drones as a method to delivering essential medicines and food into the hands of the Syrian refugees. He was inspired to help people in the country after he met Syrian refugees in Turkey. Each of the tiny drones that they use would carry up to 2kg. Each one is a custom built drone that includes a GPS tracker, and can allow the pilots to control the planes from a laptop. There is no chance that a large pilot charted rescue plane can expect to fly into the area, as it would be shot down immediately. The want to fly the drones into Syria from Turkey, and have a conveyor built of them delivering and then returning back to the base to re-stock for the next drop off.

They are planning to fly the swarm of drones into Syria at night to avoid detection, and allow for more packages to be picked up and retrieved. Each of the tiny aircrafts are made from simple materials such as packing tape, foam boards, and hot glue. Although they are small they are packed full of the type of technology they need to pull the mission off. Including the autopilot, batteries, and motor, the total cost of each drone comes to around $500. The Syrian Airlift Project is a donations based organisation that runs with the help of volunteers to build and manage the planes. There are some legal hurdles that they have met also. They have required the permission of the Turkish government to fly the them from within their border. There is much hope that has taken place from the prospect of the project, and the beneficiaries of the packages will be glad to see them arrive.

Syrian Airlift Project

Syrian Airlift Project

Police Surveillance Drones

Another unique way that drones are being used is by the police, who are in charge of protecting London’s airports. Its been found that after an 18 month analysis by the National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters, incorporating the use of a drone in surveillance will be a measured benefit. There has already been a trial period of surveillance drone usage at Gatwick airport, and new drones would be rolled out to Stansted, Heathrow, Luton, and other UK city airports. It would be possible that they could be used during major terrorist incidents, and also sieges or standoffs where firearms are involved. Its largely though though that the majority of drone usage will be around the outside of airports, and to scan from a distance things like suspicious car number plates. There is a lot of controversy with drone use by police. Police have commented that they will be able to carry out their surveillance operations 7 times faster than if they were taking a ground based approach, and also there would be savings made from the drone usage too. This has come as an alarm to privacy campaigners such as Big Brother Watch.

Police Drone Usage

Police Drone Usage

Criminal Activity Drones

Criminals are embracing the new wave of drone tech with increasingly alarming results. Tech smugglers have used them to smuggle things over prison walls and into prison courtyards. Items such as drugs, and mobile phones have been discovered after searches, and at a prison institution in South Carolina, guards were dispatched in the middle of the night to a location near the perimeter fences of the facility. They had spotted some blinking lights near the fence during the night. A man was spotted fleeing into nearby woods once the guards appeared. Authorities that were dispatched to the scene later the next day discovered marijuana, tobacco, and and a cellphone. It’s thought that this isn’t the first time drones have been used to smuggle contraband into walled prisons.

Amazon Delivery Drones

Amazon has already commented that they want to use drones in their delivery service, but it was not received as a really plausible idea. They have now taken the proposal to new heights by making a request to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to give them leniency on the pending drone regulations. Amazon want the chance to show that their service Prime Air, will be safe, and that they won’t collide with each other come crashing to the ground. They will be shown to rely on sensors and computers to select efficient routes, and avoid obstacles, all while flying 200 feet from the ground.

The FAA have proposed rules that would stop Amazon’s plans from reaching fruition, with the proposal that these miniature flying machines should not be used to carry commercial cargo, and require an operator to be in sight at all times. Flight paths of more than 10 miles would be prohibited. There are many other companies stepping in and saying the measures will stifle innovation in various industries. Amazon plans to develop drones that can sense other aircraft, and avoid them while maintaining the relatively quiet airspace between 200 and 500 feet except from taking off, and landing. Helicopters generally operate above 500 feet.

Amazon Prime Air

Amazon Prime Air

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