The first image to pop into your head when you think of the word “drone” is probably one of a military UAV used for spying and missile strikes. But that’s not all drones are used for. In fact, drones are slowly becoming more and more commercial and recreational. Here are five recent things that are being done with domestic drone technology.
1. Recreational RC Quadcopters
Perhaps the simplest new trend rising in the drone industry is small, remote-controlled flying machines. Remote-controlled quadcopters are quickly becoming the future of the high-end RC market. Many include cameras, and they range in size from fit-in-your-palm tiny to relatively large. Some are complicated enough that they can be a bit difficult to fly for the inexperienced user. Among the pricier and more high-end ones are the DHI Phantom 2 series and the Walkera QR. So if you want to take up a remote-controlled flying machine hobby, quadcopter drones may be the place to look. In fact, activities such as quadcopter racing and “dogfighting” are becoming fairly popular. Just make sure you read the instruction manual, though, because quadcopters are not as easy to fly as an RC helicopter or plane.
2. Lily the Camera Drone
Lily is an up-and-coming, semi-self-operated, camera quadcopter for those who are serious about getting photos and footage from the air. It is an example of the many high-def camera drones being developed for those who wish to get aerial video or pictures of their activities. Catered to the outdoorsy and adventurous, this compact little drone flies itself near you and follows you while taking 1080p video, 720p slo-mo, and 12 MP still shots. A little remote that you can carry in your pocket controls the angle at which Lily hovers and flies around you. Waterproof, portable, and capable of handling strong winds, Lily is the hovering camera pal for whatever adventure you choose to go on. It will soon be competing with GoPro and 3D Robotics, both of which are developing similar camera drones.
3. Agricultural Drones
Farmers are beginning to use drones for more often because they are the cheaper, easier way to keep tabs on the conditions of their crops. Farmers can determine how well or poorly their crops are doing by having these camera drones do low fly-over scans of farmland. Drones can help farmers determine which sections of crops need more tending, and through the use of special imaging like infrared and ultraviolet, they can more easily discover other problems, such as pests. Many of these drones are flown by an autopilot function, and can be flown wherever and whenever. With the need for food rising in accordance with the skyrocketing population of our world, agricultural drones are the most recent technological innovation to help farmers successfully grow and sell their crops.
4. Amazon Prime Air
Amazon is, as ever, looking to cut costs on shipping, which is one of their biggest expenses. Their answer is delivery drones. Ideally, such a method would be able to deliver merchandise to customers more quickly (think about thirty minutes), more efficiently, and far more cheaply than ever before. There are more logistical issues to resolve than you could shake a stick at, though, like safety, security, and approval from the FAA. Amazon is hopeful, though, and legislation is starting to be developed that would give them the green light. Amazon isn’t the only company with this plan in mind, however. FedEx and UPS are also doing research into the commercial drone industry, so competition is rising.
5. Food Delivery
Similar in many respects to package delivery by Amazon, some businesses have started developing ways to deliver food and drinks to customers aerially. From pizza and tacos to bottles of champagne and drink glasses, drone food delivery is starting to sound more and more real. It may involve delivering food to a customer’s home or waiting tables within a restaurant itself, both of which drastically diminish the amount of money and manpower needed to run a restaurant. It may sound crazy, and it may sound like just another way to save money and minimize work, but who knows? Perhaps drone food delivery is in the cards.
As time goes on, I’m sure that we will see more innovations come from the drone industry. Some people are saying that we have entered the “drone age.” So sometime in the near future, we may start to see more little flying machines buzzing around in the sky.