Drone technology is becoming ubiquitous. This summer, NFL franchises are deploy flying robots over their respective training camp sessions to capture the overhead perspective for coaches and scouts to pour over in film rooms. And once Amazon gets approval for its long-awaited drone delivery fleets, an overhead stream of UAV traffic will be just as commonplace in your neighborhood as a Honda Civic.
Right now, however, there are many aspects of everyday life where we don’t anticipate encountering a drone. That fact is sure to change in the coming years, but for now, here are five places you’d never expect to find a drone, but very well could:
As a recent DRONELIFE article put forth, that summer wedding you’ve been looking forward to (or perhaps dreading, depending on how many weddings you’ve already attended this spring) likely will have a drone buzzing around, capturing aerial imagery of the nuptials for the bliss-filled newlyweds. That is, if the photography company has and/or cares about FAA clearance to shoot with a drone ‘for commercial purposes.’
“It’s the latest wow factor sought by the nuptially inclined: Along with the perfect bridal party, color scheme and location, couples want to document how all those ingredients came together to form the perfect wedding backdrop. And those from-the-mountaintop vistas are accomplished only by drones (formally, “unmanned aerial vehicles” or UAVs), the newest trend in wedding filmmaking.” – Philly.com
Crime Scenes (as the good guys)
When most of us think of search-and-rescue missions, we get the image of the local townspeople, arms entwined, marching in a huge line through empty fields, but I can’t think of a better use for unmanned aerial vehicle technology than in helping locate the two escaped convicts that recently burrowed out of the Clinton Correctional Facility in rural upstate New York. As anyone that’s spent any time in that region can tell you, it’s a remarkably remote area where farm fields and dirt roads stretch as far as the eye can see. Manned helicopters with their loud engines – would surely tip off the escapees, whereas the right drone can fly overhead without nearly as much commotion.
And, although FAA would not appreciate it, a drone (with an infrared camera!) piloted by an experienced operator can operate under the darkness of night, when the convicts would most likely be moving, giving the authorities a better chance at safely apprehending them.
In A Parking Garage
Researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai recently announced a case study where they used a DJI Matrice 100 research platform quad rotor outfitted with special Intel microchips to monitor illegally parked cars in a multi-level Shanghai parking garage. “Our system is designed to help city planners identify illegally parked cars,” says Dr. Hui Feng, project manager, Fudan, in a Youtube video detailing the DJI-Intel collaboration. “With the Intel technologies the system can recognize the position and orientation of the parked car and will determine whether or not they are illegally parked. Once identified, the systems will capture the license plate and transmit that information to a police base station.”
Since a drone can easily cover a much-larger area than human parking attendants (it’s also safer than dealing with disgruntled motorists) on foot, look for municipal parking authorities to pick up this technology in bunches once commercialized.
Down At The Local Fishing Hole
Flannel shirts and chest-high plastic waders, empty cans of Skoal and Milwaukee’s Best, these are just some of the things one expects to encounter on a Saturday or Sunday morning at the local fishing spot. Well, get ready for the day when some young hotshot decides to fish with a drone, because that day could be coming soon.
A San Diego-based startup has begun a crowdfunding campaign for its aptly named AguaDrone, a wild idea that is sure to cause much derision within mostly-conservative angler clubs. The quadcopter prototype is designed to hover over water carrying one of three pods. The Fish Scout Pod is a sonar-based fish finder that can send a wireless signal more than 300 feet to a smartphone or tablet app that targets fish-filled locations. Using the Line Flier Pod, an angler can then attach fishing line from a pole to the pod and send the AguaDrone to a sonar-marked waypoint where the fish are biting. The drone then drops the pod and attached baited line into the water and returns home.
Taking a summer trip to the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park is pretty much a rite of passage for most Americans. Now imagine being able to pilot a drone with First Person View (FPV) over the edge of the Grand Canyon, soaring thousands of feet above the winding Colorado River below. It’s a picturesque view that the legions of tourists that came before the advent of drone technology could only capture by going on one of those over-priced and god-awful helicopter tours, and even then, it’s not quite the same.
And that’s not even mentioning the benefits for folks that the Grand Canyon and other remote tourist attractions aren’t readily accessible, such as those confined to wheel chairs (or those confined to a cubicle all summer). For those folks, being able to soar over the Grand Canyon or to ascend the Washington Monument with a drone is a great way to get a perspective they could only before dream of.