Unmanned aerial crafts, popularly called drones have dominated the new age with their cool surveillance features, smooth operation and incredible manoeuvrability.
There are plenty of examples that demonstrate the utility of drones in executing tasks that are often difficult or altogether impossible for humans. If these uses can be extrapolated in the coming years, the world may, at last, see a future that is bright for everyone.
Here we walk you through the 5 applications of drones where humans would have struggled to operate.
The implementation of disaster relief is often limited by physical concerns. It's never easy for humans to unearth survivors from heaps of debris resulting from catastrophes to the likes of flooding, earthquake, wildfires. These emergency situations require workers to risk their lives and hunt for their fellow humans. Adoption of drone technology can go a long way in extending disaster relief to victims before irreparable damage occurs.
Since drones are capable of hovering over disaster locations and manoeuvring into little spaces, they hold better prospects as victim-hunters than humans. Moreover, they can be manipulated to withstand extremes of temperature, chemicals and radiation. Drones equipped with aerial cameras offer a fine perspective for hunting out victims, especially in low-visibility locations covered with debris.
Nuclear fallout areas are primarily dangerous for humans to explore as they emit noxious gases, high enough to paralyse and even cause death. In this case, it becomes practically impossible for human aid workers to extend relief to the victims trapped in those spots. Drones can be modulated to deliver vaccines, care packages, food and medicine to people from a vast distance. In fact, a recent team is working on a smartphone-controlled drone that can be used by medical workers.
The primary feature of drones is their discreet manoeuvrability. With their tiny structure laden with a host of features, they can fly over space-constrained locations and spy them in a manner advantageous to humans.
Drones attached with aerial cameras can be used to hover over locations that are practically inaccessible for the ordinary man. One such area is the forest. Drones flying over such areas can be used to capture real-time movements/habits of animals and track their routes throughout protected areas. Using this technology, wildlife scientists can uncover never-seen-before footage of life in the forest and dispel many myths that surround the same.
While everyone is familiar with wildlife documentaries and their efficacy in providing a bird's-eye view of wildlife, the truth is that they are mostly fabricated and do not lend a complete picture. Moreover wildlife biologists often end up chasing particular animals for months in the hope of capturing some amazing shots and tracking their activities. This sort of a crude observational strategy not only affects the filming procedure ( e.g., animals hiding in the presence of humans) but also entails quite a few risks.
One of the most unusual applications of drones lies in their ability to monitor real-time environmental data that's beyond human reach. For instance, NASA's test drone has been sent out to the stratosphere for examining the effects of water vapour and pollutants on the ozone layer. Who knows, one day scientists may even consider sending drones to the deeps of the earth.
The U.S Government is known to protect its farms and endangered animals with the help of drones. In many countries of the world, UAVs and military drones like Ravens are deployed to chalk out wetlands and roads for land management. The use of drones to protect property serves a dual purpose- the wildlife that inhabits those areas receives protection too.
Scientists employ tedious conservation measures like ear-marking, quadrant sampling and statistical analysis to maintain the count of animals in the area. Apart from being wildly laborious, they often give false-positive and false negative results that only serve to complex the conservation process further.
Drones, on the other hand, can be mounted in a small space to count all the animals that visit the area for a pre-determined period. One such craft equipped with a thermal imaging camera has been used to count the number of sandhill cranes in a zone.
A recent Orangutan Conservation effort involves the usage of drones as tools to estimate the distribution of orangutans across the Indo-Malaya region. Exact identification of density is pivotal to successful conservation, as manual, ground-based efforts are slow and expensive in the thick forest cover favoured by these species.
Drones, when deployed to track conservation projects, offer a holistic solution. They protect not only the concerned species but also the ones that are affected either directly, or indirectly by their absence. Additionally, they ensure habitat protection.vAlthough manual detection is not impossible, it is extremely time-consuming, not to mention inconclusive and expensive.
Hovering even the most primitive of drones like crude aeroplanes can dramatically cut down the cost of conservation activities.
Conservation groups that use drones get exhaustive data from real-time maps and updated imagery of animal motion. Their information is 40 times more detailed than the ones obtained from satellites.
These unmanned crafts can also track deforestation and keep incessant poaching at bay. In the future, surveillance drones may be the only tool available to fight off illegal animal trade, poaching and deforestation.
In today's world of an ever-growing population, the land is the primary need of man. This need drives him to fell trees, displace native species and invite climatic catastrophes. While converting arid land to an arable area is of prime importance, conventional agricultural practices are largely tedious and inconclusive.
Even the genetically modified crops do not come free of risks and see little acceptance among farmers. All agriculture movements till date focus on examining soil, improving yields and saving money. Precise application of water, fertilisers and pesticides can address all these concerns.
While the manual investigation of soil is practically impossible, especially for long stretches of land, drones act as excellent tools to identify the soil type and its nutritional requirements. Modern technology also allows commissioning of drones to deliver the exact proportion of resources to every soil type and promote high yield. Needless to say, this works well for both the environment as well as the farmer.
Drone cameras can be used to monitor areas of low nitrogen levels or track the growth of particular farm sections. Drones equipped with infrared light cameras can also detect plant health by measuring photosynthesis. They can be used to make some accurate comparative growth analysis, down to a single plant too.
The idea of fighting robots to death developed ever since the inception of robots. Something about unmanned technology awakens the inner child in everyone and excites them into watching action figures breaking each other's parts off. Hence, it only seems natural that one of the most unusual applications of drones would lie in human amusement.
Humour, drama and mystery are all very well, but nothing beats action. These high-tech gadgets can be locked in nets for combat sports. It would be great fun to watch them drop over each other, jamming the frames and sending the weaker drone to a crash landing
Naveen is a drone enthusiast and keeps himself updated when it comes to drone and quadcopter trends and developments.