I have been a drone enthusiast for a couple of years now. It all started when I was taking summer classes at BC. I had to wait until my afternoon class and did not have much to do in the meantime. With time in my hands, I decided to scroll down the kickstarter website to find new gadgets or interesting product being developed. As I was going through the technology section something drew my attention. It was the Hexo+ project: an experimental autonomous drone designed to follow the person holding the phone with the Hexo app. It was perfect for someone just getting into the drone’s world since it was very user friendly and simple to fly. However, the company had not finished their product, so they were crowdfunding the project and in 1 year time they would send the final version of the Hexo+ drone to all of its backers. In the end, it took them approximately 1.5 years to deliver the final product, but luckily for me, they were able to fulfill their promises of a self-driving drone.
After getting my hands around the Hexo+ I realized that their prototype was years behind other drones in the marketplace such as DJI. Their great accomplishment was creating a self-driving vehicle, but they were missing other great flying modes and features such as: Draw, TapFly, Return Home, Gesture Mode, 5 Direction obstacle sensing, 4.3mi long range control. Having control over your drone at all times is necessary to get the quality shots that you are looking for. Even though it requires a person to be in charge of the control remote at all times, it has a better outcome from the filming perspective. The draw features allow you to draw a path on the map at a specific altitude and the GPS signal on the drone will make sure that the drone stays on track (even if you lose the drone from sight). Losing a drone with these features is pretty much impossible since whenever the drone loses signal and disconnects from the control remote, it is programed to come straight back to the Home location. In addition, it comes with several sensors on the sides to ensure that there are no obstacles threatening the drone. When the drone detects an object, it will override the remote control commands to prevent a beginner flyer to crash the drone on the first fly out of the package.
After flying drones for a little I could help but start thinking about the dozens of uses that drones could have for different companies in order to improve the customer experience. Moving away from the technical aspects of drones, I would like the rest of the blog post to be about possible applications of drones on a regular person’s daily life.
When Amazon’s Jeff Bezos said that drones would be part of the delivery options in the e-commerce platform, many thought he was exaggerating and maybe even a little crazy. However, on December 7th 2016, Amazon completed the first Amazon Prime Air shipping to a customer in Cambridgeshire, England. At the moment, Amazon is conducting tests and hopefully sooner rather than later we will be able to get out deliveries in 30 mins or less. Other companies are also investing in this type of technology to incorporate as part of the supply chain: JD.com, Domino’s Pizza, 7-Eleven, Google. Imagine how efficient product delivery could simplify customer’s lives as we no longer would have to waste time going to a store for a single product.
Product delivery is only one of a drone’s many uses. Let’s talk about a life saving use. In a search and rescue operations, drones can be used as additional air support and could be used to find people as well as to find the source of a fire in the case of firefighters. Rescue units would be able to lower their costs since they no longer have to pay for costly helicopters in their operations. Also, emergencies are very sensitive to time, and imagine how much time could be saved if someone brings a drone in the emergency unit instead of waiting for a helicopter to arrive.
Furthermore, consider for a second how drones could be used by the police as air support to tackle terrorism threats and identify criminals from the air in the middle of a pursuit. Furthermore, drones are less noisy that a regular helicopter, so they can also be used in undercover operations without alerting the suspects. These silent drones allow the police to have surveillance from the sky, and could even be used for protests/manifestations where it is difficult to surveil large masses of people.
Drones are currently being used in 3-D Mapping, where they survey landscapes and take hundreds of pictures to create a 3-D Map with a special software that puts them together. Even though satellites also produce these type of maps, using drones is more cost-efficient and allows small companies or even individuals to have access to this technology. Just like, rangers can use drones to keep track of the wildlife in a national park without having to move through the forest.
Drones seem to be the future of different industries and I am sure that we will continue to find more uses along the way. Hopefully they can also be used in the third world to improve the living standards of the population. Just like they are used to deliver purchased products by Amazon, they could be used by NGOs to bring medical aid and food to remote locations. I am looking forward to see how market leaders will implement this technology in urban locations and cities. I will keep an eye out to see what regulators have to say about this matter. I am sure that it will provoke an interesting debate.