5 Ways Drones & Quadcopters are Changing the World

Scan the headlines these days and barely a week goes by without news of the latest development in Drone technology or quadcopter regulation. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are one of the fastest growing tech trends and seem to be finding a place in all corners of industry and society. With governments and media buzzing with talk of regulation, health and safety, and moral scruples, we’ve complied five ways the planet is changing thanks to the rise of the machines – take note and take cover:

1. Filmmaking

Offering cameramen and directors a fresh and exciting way to capture footage, drones equipped with small, high-quality cameras have seen a boom in the last couple of years. The new technology significantly lowers the barrier to entry for filming glorious aerial shots previously the reserve of those who could afford expensive heli-shots. Nowadays, indie filmmakers and eye-wateringly big budget films alike are taking the opportunity to gently drift through the skies and take us viewers on ever more dynamic film visual journeys.

Unsure about drone filming? Sit back and settle in to enjoy 3.5 minutes of aerial joy on thanks to this fine work by Anvil Films:

2. Shopping and Delivery

In 2013, Amazon announced it was testing the use of UAVs as a potential new delivery mechanism. But is it a real-world solution, or a sci-fi publicity stunt? Amid legislative wrangling in the US and UK, Amazon have recently stated that they are prepared to deploy their much hyped “Prime Air” service in regions where regulations permit. With Google’s “Project Wing” being tested in Australia, and DHL’s Parcelcopter 2.0 already up and running in a region of Germany, the skies look set to be abuzz with unmanned mail-order very soon.

3. Environment

Once mapped, the drones will deploy seed pods, which will break open for germination

Meanwhile in the UK, a team of ecologically minded scientists and engineers set their sights on a $1m prize that was due to be rewarded as part of the “Drones for Good” competition. Working out of Oxford, the group aims to use Drones to tackle industrial scale deforestation with industrial scale reforestation. The ambitious project plans to use specially equipped quadcopters to create detailed 3D maps of large section of rainforest. Once mapped, the drones will deploy seed pods, which will break open for germination allowing the planting of a projected 1 billion trees a year.

4. Military and Surveillance

For many, a decade ago drones were the stuff of science fiction, in 2015 they’re widely touted as an essential part of any self-respecting military arsenal. More than 50 countries, including the UK, China and Iran, now have drones at work policing the world from the skies – the US alone is now reported to have deployed over 11k. Used for both surveillance and military strikes, the use of Drones remains controversial, with many arguments for and against. Those for their use, argue they offer a cost effective solution that saves the lives of military personnel; while those against counter that UAVs increase the threat of indiscriminate killing and remove moral judgment from military engagement. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, the march of the drones looks set to continue.

5. Search and Rescue

Winners of the Drones for Good competition in 2015, the team from Flyability developed a “collision proof” drone that could well revolutionise search and rescue. Although having many uses, the “Gimball” drone’s geodesic, carbon-fibre cage makes it ideal for squeezing into narrow spaces without the risk of damage to the device or unwitting human obstacles. Having pocketed $1m dollars in prize money, the team are now focusing on refining their design in conjunction with emergency responders – looks like Lassie might be out of a job.

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