Blog #9: Drones

Drones are used all around the world for many different things. Movie producers, TV shows, and popular YouTubers use drones in order to make really impressive videos and/or episodes. For example, YouTuber Casey Neistat uses drones such as DJI’s and Phantoms 33to record and put together absolutely breathtaking videos and montages of NYC and wherever else life takes him. He’s been making videos like these for years, and has attracted millions and millions of people to his channel.

This is not the only thing drones are used for, though. Drones continue to find new applications in numerous fields. From medical aid, scientific research to law enforcement, let’s take a look at some of the ways they are being used around the globe today.

In 2016, Rwanda used a newly introduced drone delivery system in order to transport blood to patients that were in areas of the country that are hard to get to via regular transportation. Poor roads and infrastructure have often made it difficult for blood to reach patients at transfusing facilities. Zipline, a robotics company, provided 15 custom-built drones which can carry up to 1.5 kilograms of blood and fly up to 150 kilometers roundtrip. Hospitals can order blood via text message and have it parachuted to their location in 15 minutes, eliminating the need for onboard refrigeration or insulation. This type of aid has also been seen in Madagascar, where a company by the name of Vayu has been providing drones that help deliver medical supplies to villages in rural areas. The drone program will also accelerate the diagnosis of tuberculosis and speed up the delivery of vaccines.

Drones have also been used to help with disaster management. A great example of this was in 2014 when a massive earthquake hit the southwest of China, destroying over 10,000 homes and displacing around 200,000 people. Since it was very hard to operate on foot after the disaster due to the rocky and dangerous terrain, The China Association for Disaster and Emergency Response Medicine used drones to fly above everything, to assess the damage and locate any survivors. The birds-eye-view of the drone helped emergency rescue teams prioritize and strategize certain missions. Without the use of drones in during this situation, it would have been harder to find people, and would have taken a lot longer.

Another use for drones is actually quite relevant today, due to the forest fires in California. There are many drones that are used for creating controlled forest fires, as well as drones that fly over forest fires to drop water in efforts to put the fire out. Similarly to the earthquakes talked about in the previous paragraph, they are also used to survey the land during a fire to see if anyone may be trapped.

Governments are also using drones to to fight crime. According to the Police Aviation Administration Office, more than 300 police drones are being used in 25 provinces, to patrol areas that are difficult for police officers to access. In parts of China, drones have provided surveillance data and actionable intelligence on drug production dens, enabling police to conduct successful raids. Also, on the US-Mexico border, multiple drones patrol. Known as “change detection” missions, the Predator B drones sweep remote mountains, canyons and rivers with a video camera and return within three days to conduct another sweep in the same spot. The two high resolution videos are then overlaid for software analysis to identify tiny changes, tracks and evidence of human activity on the terrain. About 2% of the missions have offered evidence of illegal border crossings.

Every day, people are finding new ways to include drones in peoples everyday lives. They make our lives easier, they entertain us, as well as they protect us. The drone market is always growing and growing, with new, more advanced drones being produced regularly. The drone market, I think, is far from slowing down.

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