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Drone User Groups

The Drone User Groups Workgroup at the DARC conference in NYC.

The word drone didn’t always have the negative connotation it has been saddled with through frequent news coverage of U.S. military bombing using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). There are many benign uses of drone technology, and these are pretty far removed from what you see on the news. Many hobbyists and some commercial photographers are using small camera-carrying drones for fun or to make money.

One group of enthusiasts seeks to change how people view drones. According to the Drone User Group Netowork (DUGN) website, the organization “seeks to foster interest in the use of civilian unmanned aerial technology and demonstrate its positive potential for humanity.”

The DUGN is giving this idea more than lip service. They recently announced the Drone Social Impact Award, which will give $5,000 to someone who can document the most socially beneficial use of a drone for under $3,000. The limit on the project cost is intended to make it competitive for individuals and small groups. If you are interested, check out their website for more info.

Timothy Reuter, founder of the DUGN says, “We are living in a golden age of maker aviation. This prize is designed to encourage all the people who have been creating amazing drone designs in their basements, makerspaces, and Techshops to try and apply their UAVs to solving some of the world’s toughest challenges.”

During the recent Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference (DARC), Timothy led a discussion about why there isn’t more diversity in many of the community groups focused on drone and robot technologies. Andra Keay, one of the panelists, suggested that some people are much more interested in what can be done with technology, while others are more comfortable focusing on the technology itself. These people don’t always effectively communicate with each other.

“We are hoping that this prize will provide an opportunity for communities that might not normally interact to find new ways to work together,” says Timothy.

The DUGN has over 1,500 members in ten associated regional groups, making it perhaps the world’s largest collection of civilian drone operators. One of those groups is Timothy’s own DC Area Drone User Group (DC DUG), which put together this video of some of its members discussing civilian drone technology. The conversation about personal use of drone technology is building steam. What do you think? Watch the video and let us know in the comments.

Andrew Terranova

Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and an electronics and robotics hobbyist. He is an active member of the Let’s Make Robots community, and handles public relations for the site.
Andrew has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children’s Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Learning Center in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.


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