Beneficial Uses for Drones

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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We live in the southern part of our state and some volunteers who picked up firewood to distribute to those who can not get it for themselves came all the way from the northern part of our state to haul away firewood we set aside. As they were loading three cords of firewood, one of the volunteers commented about drones. All I knew about drones was that they were used to spy on people, they interfered with normal air traffic, that they were developing them to deliver packages and they were being used for military purposes.

The gentleman who was so enthused over this technology started to inform me of the positive uses they present and how they are a totally new industry much like the cell phone was several years ago. He challenged me to Google their good uses and check out the positive contributions they are being developed for.

Drones for Emergency Response and Wildfires

Not being one to ignore a reasonable challenge, I did some research on drones and was amazed at how they can be utilized in so many different ways. They can be used to survey areas to develop more accurate maps. They can be equipped with heat sensors and used in search and rescue at far less cost than putting people out there searching for those lost.

Here in the mountains, we frequently have people lost in the mountains and finding them with drones would be a major plus. They are already being used to investigate wildfires and determine needs and personnel or equipment to help fight them. They can be used to access disaster areas to assess needs and deliver medical and survival supplies. They can be used as support for ambulances as they don’t have to fight traffic congestion and can be faster plus deliver defibrillators or other critical medical supplies to victims.

A drone ambulance is being developed that can deliver a medical kit and emergency supplies much faster than a ground ambulance. Living remotely as we do, these applications could and would be beneficial to us and could save our lives. In the spring when it is mud season, or winter when roads drift in, getting drone medical assistance could be life-saving when no other means would be available to us.

The more research I did and the more I read about drones, the more I could see why the gentleman collecting firewood was so excited by these flying robots. Professional pilots are going to be needed for them and manufacturers of drones will be challenged to develop drones that will meet specific needs. This seems to be something to be excited about and may be the new industry in our future.

Agriculture Uses

There are several practical uses of drones for agriculture needs. Farmers and ranchers (from the comfort of their home) can check the development of crops and keep track of livestock. Irrigation systems can be aerially observed plus they can keep a watch on their land and fences. Water sources can be routinely checked to make sure no polluting factors are being introduced into the system and no irrigation problems exist. The positive applications seem endless.

I read that Google purchased a company that manufactures drones that can boost internet use to remote areas. While we live in a remote area and have internet access not all people have that access so that will benefit many. Foresters can check tree growth and insect problems with drones and wildlife officers can do animal surveys utilizing them.

The military and police have been using drones for quite some time but new uses in the private sector seem endless. What these aerial robots are capable of is nearly endless and I can see how we may become very dependent on them as more and more uses for them are discovered. They are affordable running from $1,000.00 to $20,000.00, plus being extremely practical. As they proliferate the airways they will need to be carefully regulated so they aren’t running into each other or airplanes or helicopters but that should be relatively easy to accomplish.

It does seem to me that the possibilities of drones are extensive and that we will all benefit greatly from their development and implementation. To be able to use them for search and rescue by being able to locate a person faster and at a fraction of the cost is a very positive use of this relatively new technology. At night when searchers have to come out of the woods drones equipped with infrared and night vision could continue the search. The agriculture uses are mind boggling. If ranchers have livestock in peril they can respond to the exact place needed. They can also do it in less time than constantly patrolling their property would require.

Drones for Disaster Response

What came immediately to mind was hurricane Katrina and how long it took relief to access the destruction. A drone could do it in a fraction of the time and then direct specific needs to the area where they are most needed. Having visual ability of the area could help prioritize specific  needs. They could carry medical supplies and survival supplies to those in most need until physical help could reach them.

Disaster relief uses would seem to be a priority in the implementation of drones. The wildfires in the West would especially benefit from their use. People would know what the status of their homes were and firefighters could map specific areas of need. I even read about how they can apply fire retardant from the air.

All this technology exists and just needs to be implemented. I’m glad I was challenged to look  into drones as there is a new world available that I was totally unaware of regarding these airborne robots. It was a subject that I had not given any thought to previously but thankfully there are those who are able to visualize the benefits of drones.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their life in the mountains to to:McElmurray’s Mountain Retreat.

Photo courtesy of Google images

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