Drone technology is evolving at such a rapid pace that it’s fast becoming a more frequent part of our everyday lives, whether you’re talking military advancements or how we deliver packages.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were once considered government property, but the technology is now so readily accessible that it’s already affecting us in more ways than you might imagine.
In the interests of keeping up to date, Byte Bell breaks down some of the most interesting facts about drones as they continue to have a greater impact on the planet.
- Drones help farmers…but may soon make them obsolete
Agriculture is one sector in particular that’s ready to be transformed by drones, which are already helping farmers tend to their crops, keep a check on their produce and protect livestock with ease. For example, Yamaha has created an autonomous helicopter called the Rmax, which measures nine feet and can carry a 62lb payload, spraying two acres of land in just six minutes.
Farmers require certification to pilot the technology at present, but the natural evolution may see large corporations buy up land and use autonomous drones to tend farms without need of pilots.
- Pizza delivery drones are already a thing
If you didn’t know drones were delivering pizzas by now, you’ve been out of the loop.
A couple near Auckland, New Zealand, became the first to receive their pizza delivery by drone back in 2016, completing their order in a faster time than it would have taken a driver by car, via CNBC:
Fast food is close to becoming even faster after it was announced the model is also being trialled in other countries, meaning it may not be long til your Za arrives via air mail.
- The Drone Racing League is must-watch sport
The closest thing we have to pod racing in the present day, the Drone Racing League is the most commercialised arm of the technology’s sport arm and funds an annual championship held across the world.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic meant the 2020 season of the tournament took place entirely via simulator, but the action is nonetheless a rush. Lit by pilot-specific LEDs, teams and individuals fly through courses (or ‘Levels’) at incredible speeds, made all the more entertaining when you’ve got thousands attending in a live stadium event:
The DRL was recently legitimised as a mainstream sport after entering into an official partnership with DraftKings, though Drone.bet details how wagers are still only accepted in some U.S. states.
- Nikola Tesla invented the drone’s ancestor
Futurist Nikola Tesla made a great deal of his advancements in alternative electrical supply, but it was his verge into what we now call radio waves that led to him inventing a precursor to the modern drone.
In 1898, the Serbian-American engineer took an interest in the naval armaments race and built a prototype boat controlled by radio waves.
Speaking to the New York Herald in November that year, Tesla mused that his remote-controlled inventions (including mines) meant “war will cease to be possible.” If only that much were true.
- They’ve been saving lives in Africa for years
A particularly pertinent use of the technology at a time when a pandemic has taken hold of the world, drones have been used in much of Africa for years now as a means of delivering medicine.
Vast portions of the continent are still considered less economically developed and rely on charity as a lifeline, but those parcels and donations can be made more frequent thanks to drones.
Zipline is one U.S.-based company that receives orders from local doctors, which can then deliver medical good via drones that can travel at 110 kilometers per hour. According to Zipline in 2018, its services “increased the use of blood products by 175 per cent in Rwanda while reducing wastage and spoilage of medical products by 95 per cent”, via DownToEarth.org.
- Wildlife is not a drone’s friend
The Netherlands was miles ahead of the rest of the world when they began training eagles to fight drones in 2016, per the BBC. As this video shows, technology still can’t stand up to the might of mother nature, with birds of prey proving a particularly effective counter-measure:
- …but they also protect endangered species
That being said, drones are also being utilised to keep some of the world’s endangered animals from going extinct. Wildlife conservation is a duty of humankind in the 21st century, and drones such as Air Shepherd are used in countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Botswana to spot and catch animal poachers:
The World Wildlife Fund estimates that the illicit animal trade is valued at $10 billion annually, but drones are doing their bit to at least slow business and hopefully reduce that number exponentially.
- They’re replacing estate agents
Another useful innovation while a pandemic restricts face-to-face contact, drones are being used by estate agents to photograph houses and give virtual tours without the need to attend.
There will always be a unique quality to viewing a property in person, but drones allow potential buyers to hold viewings from afar and check out their new neighborhood through a webcam.