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Future Tech: 

7 ways drones are changing the world


Fly my pretty! Go forth and change the world

Drones, drones, drones. We can’t seem to get away from them right now as they slowly make their mark in industries all across the world. Although traditionally thought of as a tool of war, how can drones help improve our quality of life in other areas? Here’s a list of seven ways we believe drones can have a significant impact – with one perhaps less significant…You’ll know when you see it.

1. Transportation

Let’s begin with the developing world, where drones could have their biggest impact – saving lives. In areas of the world where road infrastructure hasn’t evolved like it has in the west, one company believes drones offer the perfect solution.

Citing an example during a compelling TED talk, Andreas Raptopoulos of Matternet explains that if a young child is in desperate need of medicine, they can make the call to provide it, but due to a lack of road infrastructure it would take an age to deliver. Using Matternet’s unmanned drones that can carry small packages, the medicine can be delivered from an ‘ultra-flexible, automated logistics network’ – Basically a network of drones that have been set-up within the appropriate distance to reach all necessary parts of the country, and on an even grander scale, the entire continent.

The fact that Matternet seems to be a collaboration of angels doesn’t hurt their status either, as their Manifesto reads:

Doing good is our first priority. There is strong value associated with doing good in the world and we are moving into an era when this will be appreciated as the prime objective after decades of technological innovation driven solely by the desire to make money.

…Matternet, we salute you.

2. Photography

What better way to capture aerial views than to somehow get a camera up into the sky for those breathtaking images that can prove to be the difference between amateur and pro. Drone technology has gone from toy to big-boy tool within just a few years and the Bebop is a testament to that technological progression.

The Bebop has built-in GPS to map out precise flight paths as well as the ability to hover over a particular area while panning the camera. The 14 megapixel Fisheye camera has a 180-degree scope, so no need for a big motor to pan the camera from left to right.

We should also mention that you can plug an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset into a Skycontroller, giving you complete control of the drone as well as a phenomenally unique experience of piloting the Bebop around.

3. Navigation

With the deluge of GPS systems and navigation technology on the market today, it’s no surprise that drone technology is getting in on the act. SkyCall is an ‘autonomous flying quadrocopter and personal tour guide’.

This new piece of UAV technology is being developed at Senseable City Lab. Rather than fiddle with your phone or, dare I say it, a map, let a small Drone locate your whereabouts and guide you straight from point A to B.

The SkyCall quadcopter communicates with the SkyCall app on your phone to detect where you are, utilising its onboard autopilot and GPS navigation systems to kindly help you through the chaotic urban sprawl. The latest tests have been conducted in the perplexing maze of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). If SkyCall can navigate through there, then we’ll entrust it with our lives.

4. Art

Art is one of the more idiosyncratic ways that drones could impact society – as you’ll see from the below example.

Artist, and we use that term lightly in this case, Bart Jansen, has decided to give his pet cat a new lease of life, quadcopter style. The story goes that Jansen’s own cat was run over by a car, and in one of the boldest moves imaginable, had the cat stuffed, attached to a drone, and off it went into the heavens above. Oh, and it’s called the Orvillecopter, after Orville Wright, in case you wanted to know.

This won’t have any huge impact on society at large, but we felt this was an appropriate piece to share this particularly bizarre tidbit. Check out the video below for more taxidermy madness.

Another area of the artistic realms that drone-art (that’s what we’ve decided to call it) has influenced is graffiti. New York street artist KATSU has created a graffiti drone, capable of spraying on canvases hundreds of feet in the air, reaching heights never before imaginable in a tagger’s world. At a recent exhibition, many artsy (bordering-on-the-pretentious) questions came up, including the philosophical ‘Who is the artist, the human or the machine?’ Well we probably don’t have the answer they’re looking for, but it sure looks cool.

5. Food delivery

“Your food should be with you in about 45 minutes to an hour.” If we hear that one more time…

Luckily for me (and you) we may not have to wait too long for our food in the near future. How is this possible you ask? You guessed it – drone delivery.

Dominos Pizza appears to be at the forefront of drone delivery at the moment with their DomiCopter. Before you get too excited, the DomiCopter is more a sneak peek into the future rather than an imminent breakthrough in the pizza delivery market.

The DomiCopter would cut fuel costs and reduce delivery times quite considerably.

Burrito bomber is another mover and shaker in the drone delivery world. It’s the world’s first airborne Mexican food delivery system.  The idea is that users order a burrito from the Burrito Bomber app, thus sending their location to the server. This generates a waypoint file that the drone uses to map the path to your house, burrito attached, before dropping your lunch right on your doorstep. We’re practically drooling at the idea. Apparently by September 2015 the FAA are required to make clear the regulations for commercial use for drones, so fingers crossed.

6. Construction 

Flight Assembled Architecture is what they’re calling it. And it seems to have some legs to it (not literally, it flies after all). It’s a project by Swiss architects Gramazio & Kohler that integrates robotics and innovative engineering. In their first field experiment, the quadrocopters lifted 1,500 foam blocks into a complex cylindrical tower that measured over six meters high.

The experiment was based on the real life aim, which is a tower standing at a height of approximately 600 meters that would house 30,000 people. Pretty impressive. No more unsightly cranes or scaffolding bars, just a helpful drone playing his own, albeit programmed, form of Jenga.

7. Search and Rescue

Maybe one of the most important in terms of its impact on society, drone technology can help search and rescue teams in a number of intelligent ways – Fly-n-Sense is a company dedicated to using drones to help improve public safety as well as private security. Their drones, including the X4 SECuR, delivers aerial support by broadcasting real-time information both day and night to ensure public safety no matter what the situation. During roadblocks or forest fires, Fly-n-Sense drones will be fastest to the dilemma with no obstacles in their way. A flying, intelligent guardian. A superhero in the sky.

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