Drones have become increasingly popular over the past couple of years, so much that the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are in the process of developing and implementing the necessary laws that will govern use.
Considering drone usage has not come close to reaching its peak, DOT and FAA realized the necessity of laying out regulations and conditions, particularly for those under 55-pounds that are involved in non-recreational activities. The set standards would include height limits, registration, operator certification and approved time-of-day usage. There may be additional regulations imposed on drones that are 4.4-pounds or less, depending on public feedback. The FAA is accepting comments until approximately April 15th, before they make a determination.
On the positive side of the drone industry, in early February 2015, Dubai (UAE), held an international competition for "the best use of civilian drones for improving people's lives". This was intended to stimulate the usage of drones for the positive advancement, protection and comfort for the future. The award of $1 million was given to Flyability, a project that was designed by Patrick Thevoz for developing "the world's first collision resistant drone for search and rescue".
If you haven't kept up with this technology, the fascinating collection we are showing today is proof that these flying assistants are going to become a much bigger part of our daily lives for the years to come.
10 Park Ranger Drones
Arnau Terrades, from Spain, realized a drone might be the perfect tool to help detect and arrest poachers and protect wildlife and entered into the Dubai contest with a plan that included using fleets of camera-equipped drones. Poaching is a serious issue in many countries and Spain is one of them.
According to WWF, the rangers and army personnel in Nepal began to operate drones to guard the Bardia National Park back in 2012. The drones are intended to catch poachers while in the process and hopefully scare away potential attackers. "Nepal is committed to stopping wildlife crime, which is robbing Nepal of its natural resources, putting the lives of rangers and local communities at risk and feeding into global criminal networks," stated General Krishna Acharya, Director of Nepal's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
9 Slum & Disaster Relief Drones
If you have never heard of S.W.A.R.M, it is a worldwide volunteer search and rescue network. This is an amazingly humanitarian use of drones and hopefully, this will come to fruition sooner than later. According to sardones.com, S.W.A.R.M. has over 1,100 drone pilots who are trained to use drones and according to a report in CNN, drones represent the future of disaster response. If you think about the types and quantities of disasters that have left people without food, water or clothing and remember the difficulties that response vehicles and aircrafts have just getting into the disaster zone, it is clear that this technology will save lives.
However, even this crucial solution to provide aid must wait for FAA's final regulations that will include privacy issues as well as formulating standards. But once it is given the green light, the power of drones will reduce the cost of aid (less manpower or high-cost aircraft) and come to the rescue in minutes rather than an hour.
8 Search and Rescue Drones
Another fantastic use for drones, a search and rescue drone can help firefighters and all arms of law enforcement. Rather than send helicopters flying low to the ground, drones will be able to more easily search for missing people, escaped criminals or victims of crime who are unable to free themselves. According to digitaltrends.com, there is an Iranian company that is in the process of creating a new search and rescue drone - Pars, which is intended to be a life saver. It includes three life rings and can be dropped into the water to help a troubled diver, swimmer or boater. The company tested its ability against a life guard and the drone reached the test drowning swimmer in 22 seconds, according to a report in industrytap.com. The experienced, trained life guard arrived at the same spot within 91 seconds.
Search and rescue drones have so many applications, we hope this concept becomes a reality. For now, the FAA controls all the strings as they weave through the plethora of potential dangers and advantages to determine regulations that will cross all channels. Not an easy task, because it will set the stage for the future.
7 Land Mine Detection
According to coaxhelicopters.com, around 5,000 people are injured or killed by left-behind land mines. At this juncture, there are two ways to detect land mines and, as they are currently being used, would take over 500 years to clear existing mines. Mark Beltran entered his concept in the International Dubai Competition, which is a CATUAV Land mine detection drone for "detecting underground mines through a smart integrated system."
6 Alcohol Delivery
Delivery of alcohol has already popped up in California, Minnesota and Las Vegas for bottle services. According to vegasseven.com, the Marquee Club at the Cosmopolitan Hotel has been using drones to deliver alcohol since Memorial Day 2014. At last count, it cost $20,000 for the alcohol, delivery and an aerial photo of you as it's being delivered. ABC News reported that the drone is operated by a pilot and cameraman and can fly in 30 mph winds and go as high as 100 feet in the air.
5 Flower Delivery
Flower Delivery Express in Detroit, Michigan began their drone delivery service in early 2014, however, they had to put plans on hold due to all of the up in the air regulations that are being considered at this time. According to a story in the Detroit Free Press, CEO Wesley Berry was determined to try it again this year with Valentine's Day deliveries, but according to mlive.com, the FAA found out and put a stop to the company's plan. Berry is determined to resume testing as soon as the FAA gives the go-ahead for commercial use.
4 Sports Photography
Sports drones for fun and recreation are available for less than $1,500, even today. But the use of commercial sports drones is still being held up by the FAA. Once approved, sports fans over the world will rejoice. At this point helicopters and blimps have been the only way sports programmers have been able to capture some of the key plays that audiences love. Think about the close-up shots these drones will be able to snap and how it will eliminate the margin of error on the parts of referees in the future.
3 Prescription Medications
According to an article in money.cnn.com, QuiQui wants to be in the business of delivery drugs, starting in San Francisco, with their drones. The visionary behind the startup, Josh Ziering, believes this delivery method will save time for customers. He already has 600 customers signed up for his service in the Mission District of San Francisco and claims deliveries will start once the FAA gets on board.
2 Beer Delivery
Once again, 2014 was the year for commercial drone testing until the FAA got into the act. Lakemaid Beer was testing their drone delivery service that was transporting cases of ice cold beer to ice fisherman staying in their shanties. This type of delivery would clearly be a huge money-maker by anyone's standards. But for now, Lakemaid has been grounded.
1 Pizza Delivery
Most are familiar with the fact that Mumbai, India is so heavily populated that it has nightmare traffic, so according to a story in the Times of India, Francesco's Pizzeria, in the city's heart, is looking into and testing drones for their pizza delivery. One such test was delivered to a high rise in Mumbai. Other tests have been made in the UK and Ireland and so far the upshot is there are still hurdles to climb. Domino's has also come out with the DomiCopter and is testing rural pizza delivery.
Amazon.com is also testing the waters and according to CBS's 60 Minutes, the online retail giant is aimed at using this method for transporting packages under 2.5 kilos mid-decade.