Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are still largely tied in public image to their use to deliver deadly missiles during military engagements. This has tarnished their reputation for many people, but that is currently changing as drones move beyond their military use and more and more into the commercial sector.
Indeed, people are finding a number of uses for aircraft that donít need human pilots and can fly autonomously by computer or be controlled remotely. These days drones come in all shapes and sizes and can add convenience to a number of tasks.
Click on the photo below to see 10 examples of how drones are being used outside of the military.
UK-based New Wave Energy wants to deploy a network of drones at a high altitude to harvest solar and wind energy in order to help end dependency on the traditional power grid. The company said itís developed the foundational technology to fly drones in airspace that use solar panels and other technology to harvest solar and wind energy. The drones would be in networked clusters connected wirelessly to each other and effectively create a high-altitude power plant for distributing and creating energy. To take the energy harvested and reuse it on the ground, New Wave plans to install antenna arrays either on land or on offshore installations to receive the electromagnetic waves transmitted from the drones and convert them into energy. (Source: New Wave Energy)
That's interesting, tekochip, I wonder if you're right about Amazon. I guess we will have to see how it goes. I think the company probably certainly has good intentions and would really like to launch the service, so would do the due diligence to make it happen. But maybe it will prove too challenging or expensive. I suppose time will tell.
Amazon says that the rule clarification won't hurt but I really think they just wanted a nice press release and have no serious intentions of providing this type of service. It looks great on TV, gets oodles of press and gets people talking about Amazon. What could be better for stock prices and business?
Under the current rules Amazon would require a Commercial Pilot at the controls and the ATC rules for the craft would nearly be impossible to administer. Will the rules change? Transponders will soon send GPS data, so it's possible that ATC would be able see the craft as a secondary target if it was hauling a mode S transponder and the hundreds of Watts required for transmission, but do any of us really want ATC to be busied with little model aircraft buzzing around a metropolitan airspace when they have bigger things to attend to?
Not to mention the whole prop bite issue.... take my word for it, prop bites can be pretty nasty.
This week the FAA clarified their policy on UAVs, which includes Model Aircraft (drone). The bottom line being commercial use of a Model Aircraft is not permitted, and that includes delivery even if the delivery is free. Many of the proposed uses of UAVs have attempted to expolit the loose, Wild West guidelines of the Model Aircraft category. The FAA even lost a recent court case because of their poorly worded regulations, so the details are a little overdue. One important requirement of a Model Aircraft that has been clarified is that the model must be operated within "visual line of sight". That means natural vision; not cameras, night vision goggles, or GPS navigation. That's not to say that the model may not use a camera, only that the pilot must maintain visual line of sight during operations.
Interesting idea for drone safey, cookiejar. But as you point out, it probably poses a financial dilemma for manufacturers. But still, if the benefit outweighs the cost, something like this could be adopted.
Using a drone like this could definitely help protect any animals that might be in harm's way of a drone, that's for sure. Perhaps as drones evolve and are used more often for humanitarian and/or other uses that involve NOT injuring people or animals, there will be more safety measures put in place.
I'm glad that you think these are perspective-changing uses for drones, AandY. I think soon people will, if not forget entirely about their use in warzones, perhaps at least put that perception on the backburner as drones are more and more used for other things.
The ideas really change ones perspective about drones. Drones can be used to make some things easier and others more efficient and easy. Having to have drones that chase away geese away from beaches is a really good idea since it helps keep the beach users safe from any kind of diseases. Having them deliver food and supplies to disaster affected areas can be the best out the ten uses mentioned so far. It helps.
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A panel at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas discussing upcoming FAA regulations for non-military drones brought out many of the issues that concern both industry and federal regulators.
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