Make: magazine Volume 44 hit the newsstands on March 24 and this issue is all about DRONES! To hold you over till the issue is available to purchase, we’ve collected some fun drone related stories to share.
Currently drones are known for their use by the military and hobbyists. In the near future, they might become better-known for doing jobs that humans either can’t do, or that would be impractical from a cost or safety standpoint. Here’s a few interesting applications in their infancy that you might see in the near future:
Pesticide application can be an unpleasant job when done by a human. Not only is it generally hot out when you’re spraying plants, you have to deal with chemicals designed to kill (bugs) in an area where bugs are known to congregate. Aerial application has been available for many years, but with a small drone, pesticides can potentially be applied much more accurately than a “crop duster” plane, and at a lower cost.
Much more dangerous than bugs or even pesticides, falling into a volcano is certain death. Since a human can’t go very close to one, you can attempt to use a drone, like the Phantom 2 Vision plus seen in the video above, to get closer. The footage (and 3D model in this case) can be amazing, but unfortunately the drone was lost in this extreme environment. As disappointing as it is to loose a drone, at least you get to live to tell about it.
Although it might not make quite as entertaining of a show as Baywatch, the drone in this video is able to get to a “drowning” swimmer much faster than a lifeguard can. The drone might can’t (yet) take the place of a lifeguard for the more skilled aspects of the job, but getting a float to a person who is drowning in less time could be very beneficial.
As seen above, drones can be used to watch from the sky for poachers. Nepal is using these vehicles at Chitwan National Park, and has seen a “dramatic decline in reported poaching incidents” since using these drones. Of note is that they are using a “wing” design instead of a multi-rotor vehicle, possibly allowing for extended flight-times.
Disaster Zone Exploration
Surveying the damage in a disaster zone from the ground is something that a human could do, but there is some danger involved in walking through ruined buildings. The drone in this video mitigates that risk by doing a video assessment of the situation from near-ground level. Showing use in a true aerial role just after 1:00, the drone is able to ascend and survey the damage from a much higher vantage point if needed.