• Janelle Whiteside

The Ways Our Skies Are Changing Through Drones

We have all watched many sci-fi movies depicting humans being ruled by our robotic overlords. An idea that has plagued the minds of the human race since we invented “the machine,” it has helped mankind advance great lengths, and machines are still changing the world. There will be no transformer’s arguing about how to use the Earth’s resources to save their own species but drones are slowly making their way into the workforce and possibly our everyday lives. Formerly known as RPVs (remotely piloted vehicles) or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), drones have been used since World War I and have since evolved into many of society’s uses[7].

History

Drones were first tested and developed as military devices by the United States and the British in the early 1900s and continued into World War II. The Kettering Bug was the beginning of drone testing and the first drone prototype, it was invented by Charles Kettering. A 12 foot long plane with a wingspan of 15 feet, all powered by a 40-horsepower engine. The unmanned plane would never see an actual battle but led to the invention of many other prototypes after it[3]. The DH.82B Queen Bee was one radio-controlled UAV built for training purposes in the United Kingdom in 1935[7]. This particular machine inspired the name drone because of the buzzing noise most UAVs would make, almost like the worker bee[2]. While drones were designed for military use almost a hundred years ago, today drones are used from everything to filming movies to delivering packages and even to farming.

Commercial Use

Drones have been commercially used since the 1980s and the industry has only continued to grow with an estimated worth of $120 billion[5]. Anyone can order a drone ranging from $20 to $1,000 depending on if there is a need for a good gift or a high powered camera perfect for shooting aerial pictures. This device has become so mainstream that someone could get a commercial drone license, as long as you are 16. Drone pilots are now in demand. It’s even possible to hire someone to take wedding photos by drones. The possibilities of drone use are almost endless and with somewhat affordable prices there is a cloud-filled world waiting.

Delivery

A well-known company like Amazon has considered using drone-powered delivery. These drones have the capability to travel 15 miles carrying packages weighing 5 lbs or less[4]. Amazon has not officially started using drones but they have received a permit to use and operate for delivery purposes. Delivering packages by drone is supposed to be a faster and more efficient way to provide customers with Amazon products. It has not come without its problems, avoiding other aerial objects, the loud noise, and if the data collected visually can be used in a harmful way. Unfortunately, there is no real way to tell if drones will have these issues until they are up in the air but drones are making their way into other aspects of our lives.

Agriculture

Food has a big impact on our lives with food prices on the rise because of COVID-19 that fact is more apparent. Drones could solve the problem of gathering large amounts of workers to perform manual labor that provides the groceries we consume everyday. These unmanned planes can do everything from planting, crop dusting, irrigation, and soil and crop regulation all without much human contact[5]. Not only could drones solve social distancing issues but also could help curb the need for food around the world that existed before the pandemic. Our population is growing and by the end of the century there are going to be over 10 billion people on the planet, drones could once again drones can be a solution by improving crop yields[1]. Drones can decrease the costs of farming and data collected by drones can be useful in anticipating weather patterns. The use of drones in agriculture can produce unyielding benefits both now and in the future.


References

1. “Agriculture Drones: Drone Use in Agriculture and Current Job Prospects.” UAV Coach, 26 Apr. 2019, uavcoach.com/agricultural-drones/.

2. “A Brief History of Drones.” Imperial War Museums, 2020, www.iwm.org.uk/history/a-brief-history-of-drones.

3. “Drones Are Everywhere Now.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, 2020, www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/how-did-drones-get-their-name.

4. Lee, Dave. “Amazon to Deliver by Drone 'within Months'.” BBC News, BBC, 5 June 2019, www.bbc.com/news/technology-48536319.

5. Michal Mazur, PwC. “Six Ways Drones Are Revolutionizing Agriculture.” MIT Technology Review, MIT Technology Review, 2 Apr. 2020, www.technologyreview.com/2016/07/20/158748/six-ways-drones-are-revolutionizing-agriculture/.

6. Sayer, Mathew. “7 Ways Drones Are Disrupting Industries Today.” Future of Everything, 27 Mar. 2018, www.futureofeverything.io/ways-drones-used-today/.

7. Stamp, Jimmy. “Unmanned Drones Have Been Around Since World War I.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 12 Feb. 2013, www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/unmanned-drones-have-been-around-since-world-war-i-16055939/.

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