Last week, nearly 200 representatives from the nation’s most prestigious universities lent their voices to a lawsuit filed against the FAA, labeling the administration’s handling of the rise of drones “a grave threat to science, research, education, and technological innovation across the United States.” For example, the FAA prohibits using drones in the classroom. Despite this fact, more and more academic institutions are adding drone classes to their curricula.
So, governmental approval or not, there is no denying this year’s crop of college students are about to get a heavy dose of drone.
Here are 5 ways drones are about to be used on college campuses all over the world:
1) The Virtual Tour Guide – Whether you are visiting campus for the first time, or you are trying to find your ECON 101 class for the first (and possibly last) time, Skycall is the UAV that will ensure you are never lost on campus again.
Developed at MIT’s Senseable City Laboratory, users request a Skycall with their mobile device and tell it where they want to go. GPS, WiFi and sense and avoid systems allow the drone to navigate autonomously, all while dispelling information about the surrounding buildings.
You also get a complimentary drone selfie (known in the biz as a ‘dronie‘) sent to your device upon arrival. Check out Skycall in MIT’s demo video:
2) Delivering Textbooks – It is fairly common knowledge that purchasing a ‘required’ textbook is not always a requisite for a passing grade. That being said, sometimes you don’t realize how necessary the book actually is until you sit down to do a problem set or cram the night before a final.
This is why Australian retailer Zookal has begun testing drones to fly textbooks right to your dorm. Zookal has teamed up with Flirtey to deliver purchased or rented textbooks to students who can then return them via traditional mail.
Regulations in the U.S. will delay the launch of such a service stateside, but Zookal has already begun outfitting their system in Australia, Singapore and Maylasia.
Zookal COO Vicky Lay on Sky News:
3) At the Football Stadium – For better or worse, college sports are getting more competitive (or ostentatious, depending on your point of view) every year. As a result, coaches and administrators are always looking to gain a leg up on the competition.
That’s why some collegiate football programs have begun utilizing drones to collect film. UCLA, Oregon State, University of Tennessee and Clemson College have all integrated unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into their daily practice routines to provide a valuable, aerial perspective.
“I thought it would be neat to see something from overhead, looking down on a drill or position. You can get a really clear perspective on spacing between your offensive linemen or rush lanes of your defensive linemen,” UCLA football head coach Jim Mora told ESPN in an Outside the Lines report (below). “It’s not a gimmick! It’s fun! It’s cool! But, at the end of the day, there is an added value that contraption hovering around our field.”
4) Filming Frat Parties – One of the major factors that has lead to the rise in popularity of drones is the ease of use. With just a little practice, anyone can fly small UAS right out of the box. Even, it seems, if there is a raging fraternity party happening all around you:
Just to be clear, Dronelife does not condone drinking and droning.
5) Delivering Beer – The story of a Minnesota brewery that delivered beer to ice fishermen caused quite a stir when the YouTube video, and subsequent news media frenzy ,went viral last winter.
And while the FAA quickly stepped in and shut it down (the great beer grounding of 2014), there was really no precedent for the FAA’s actions. So, it really is only a matter of time before someone slaps a new coat of paint on this idea and tries it again. After all, most of the people developing drone technology are university students and faculty. And why would you send a valuable member of your team on a beer run if a machine could do it for you?
Again, I can not stress this enough: Drinking and Droning. Not cool.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com