6 Ways Drones Are Actually Being Used Today

Drones do the things too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for humans. Today drones are entering the marketplace after decades of use in conflict. The quadcopter has become the most  recognizable consumer design, thanks to its maneuverability. The winged drone suits military and long range flights. High altitude cruising and carrying missiles is not for a Phantom 4.
“[A] powered, aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely…”
Sophisticated drone technology now costs a similar amount as a  laptop or mobile phone. Combined with advances in autonomous navigation drones could be used for a myriad of things in the future. Today regulation on drone flights rightly keeps this in check. We’ve avoided having lots of mid-air collisions thus far. Helicopters and airplanes stay away from kites and we try not to have birds near airports. Proliferation of drones without setting boundaries will make our skies, and our ground, more dangerous. Here’s ten ways drones get used today.

 #1 Delivery

Amazon is rolling out drones capable of cutting delivery times down to half an hour. Using buckets the drones can carry 5 pounds (2.2kg). It may not sound like a lot, but 86% of Amazon deliveries weigh less. Current Federal Aviation Administration regulations require drones to fly within the operator’s line of sight at all times. Amazon Prime Air is a fully autonomous system, it just isn’t legal. The line of sight ruling hinders many activities we’re going to cover here. However, for those already breaking the law drones offer new ways to smuggle.

#2 Shooting (film)

Drones make it possible for amateur filmmakers to get aerial shots sans helicopter. This is enabling things that the general population was never able to experience, at the same time cutting costs off of aerial photography in a huge way. Call it Zen and the Art of Helicopter Maintenance.

#3 Shooting (people)

The dark side of drones. They’re autonomous flying death machines used to fight covert wars. Drones role in warfare has evolved since the explosive-laden balloons flew over Vienna. Now drone pilot fly missions from half a world away. Or even weirder, drones fly themselves. And fire themselves. Having been equipped with artificial intelligence capable of identifying ‘terrorist’ patterns of movement.

#4 Drone Racing

racing drone
Copyright: gogian / 123RF Stock Photo

Drone racing using first person cameras and a set of VR goggles is the good clean fun way of modifying drones. First person racing drones are available for a couple of hundred dollars.

#5 Surveillance Drones

In combat and in regular life drones are used to monitor things, people and places. FAA regulation limits the true range of drone usage in business surveillance. State surveillance of citizens does not rely as heavily on drones. Some have use in specific situations such as during protests or other large events. Agriculture is also an industry getting its share of milage from drones. A birds eye view of land using an array of cameras can offer farmers ways to track and monitor conditions. 3D mapping can increase effective use of resources like water and fertilizers.

#6 Hunting hurricanes with drones

NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Northrop Grumman hope to track storms as they evolve using drones. The Global Hawk will be able to fly for 30 hours straight, covering as much as 11,000 miles in that time. Swarm technology is also used in climate science. A team from the University of Florida is using drones only six inches long to form a swarm which move within the storm. The complex data collected as they go and helps to model complex flows.

We’ve just witnessed the impact of what drones can do during a hurricane disaster with Hurricane Harvey.

The multitude of particular drone uses are largely some variation on seeing something. Drones, like cars and trucks, are suitable for artificial intelligence.