The Future of Drones  

Drone technology became big business in 2015 and interest doesn’t look like it’s about to wane. Affordable drones and quadcopters like the 3DRobotics Solo, DJI Phantom® Series and Parrot Bebop are making this new technology accessible to the masses, and this is just the beginning. 

With drone technology becoming more advanced and sophisticated at breakneck speed, drone usage is growing beyond aerial photography to more practical purposes like completing dangerous or difficult tasks. With endless potential, here are 6 of the many innovative ways drones could be utilised in the future.

Drone Safety

Before looking into the various types of drones being developed it is important to mention safety. It is essential that personal drones are used safely and in line with guidance provided by the Civil Aviation Authority. The CAA Dronecode states all of the steps users need to follow to fly their drones safely:

  • Ensure your drone is visible at all times and do not fly higher than 400 feet
  • Always keep your drone away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields
  • Use your common sense and fly safely; you could be prosecuted if you don't

Drones fitted with cameras must not be flown within 50 metres of people, vehicles, buildings or structures or over congested areas or large gatherings such as concerts and sports events.

FPV Drone Racing

FPV drone racing is a new high speed competitive racing sport that is often compared to competitive video game playing. Racing drones are very different to the drones used to take high quality aerial videos and photographs. Using FPV goggles or monitors, pilots fly quad-copter drones through three-dimensional courses reaching speeds up to 120mph.

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Drone Waiters

There is huge potential for drones in the professional hospitality sector, and drones are already being used as waiters in Singapore. The benefits of effective drones in a restaurant environment include allowing human staff to focus on ensuring the best possible customer experiences and ensuring the food and drinks are prepared to the highest quality. They also remove the presumed stigma many people feel when working in chain and fast food outlets and of course, drones are designed to be safe in any public environment so it’s understandable why they are already in action overseas.

Drone Spraying and Surveying

Agriculture is an industry which isn’t as prosperous as it used to be, especially in the UK, but with the right technology some farmers are still pushing ahead of the crowd and looking at the ways new technology can boost their business. In the USA, drone usage in agriculture has provided greater precision in crop spraying than the current standard crop sprayers, with the added benefit of giving farmers a bird’s eye view of their fields to check soil and water patterns.

Drone Taxis

Chinese drone maker EHang very recently revealed a huge quadcopter which is big enough to carry a passenger, making this a potential alternative to traditional taxis. The company claims this could lead to the development of smart taxis which would introduce an even quicker and more effective mode of transport. Describing their quadcopter as the world’s first ‘Autonomous Aerial Vehicle’, the drone is designed to transport people at speeds of up to 60mph and the company plan to complete their first commercial craft this year. With the progress made through autonomous car research and the prominence of alternatives to traditional taxi and public transport services, Ehang could be onto a winner.

Medical Deliveries

In what could be a truly innovative and lifesaving move, future drones may be used to carry out all manner of medical roles, including the delivery of prescribed medication to remote areas. In the USA drones have already been used to deliver drugs to remote practices and clinics, saving a huge amount of time and money and ensuring emergency supplies are available as soon as they are needed. Drones could also play a core role in medical deliveries alongside manned aircraft, allowing the aircraft to make multiple drop offs in a single location, and could be introduced in areas of quarantine to reduce the human risk of disease and infection.

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Retail Deliveries

Amazon have been testing the use of drones in delivery services from as early as 2013 and were one of the first companies to make it known that they had big plans to use drones as part of their delivery team within Amazon Logistics or through their Amazon Prime Air service. The retailer believes they will be able to deliver goods within 30 minutes of an order being placed using drones capable of carrying parcels up to 2.3kg in weight.

Drone Selfies

Twitter aren’t the only big name company to have voiced their interest in drone technology but what they plan to do with it is probably one of the most exciting developments for the selfie generation. Twitter applied for a patent in December 2015 looking to secure the rights to a drone ‘capable of taking photos and videos and transmitting them through users’ Twitter accounts’. Whilst this doesn’t mean there will be drones running under Twitter’s control, there’s a high chance it could happen. The tech could potentially be designed to intelligently find its way to the most popular spots using Twitter analytics like location, likes and retweets and capture ‘dronies’ (selfies from the sky) at the scene.

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