Drones- Machines of the present and the future

Fashion. Sports. Military. Healthcare- what do these things have in common? – Believe it or not, the answer is ‘Drones’. Drones are slowly conquering the world around us and it’s high time we look up from our screens to the blue sky. And we might just find a drone on surveillance duty. Go on, take a peek.

But for non-geeks, what are drones anyway? And what’s the scope of these machines? And why should you be bothered?

Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles or simply put machines that are always on autopilot. (Fun fact: The word drone was derived from an old English word, dran or dron that means a male bee.) They are usually made from a light composite material, so they can be easily maneuvered and are not very heavy. And just to spice things up, you could add all sorts of equipment- a camera to scan and take pictures, navigation systems, sensors and anything else you could imagine.

The Intel drone light show team produces the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 Opening Ceremony drone light show, featuring Intel Shooting Star drones. Intel is providing drone technology at the Olympic Winter Games in South Korea. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

The future of drones has already begun and it’s going to change a lot around us. Don’t believe us? Check out what drones have been up to:

Dolce and Gabbana recently used drones to fly their new range of handbags on the ramp. US military has been using drones for a while now- in surveillance, monitoring, and even air strikes. Intel displayed a breathtaking drone show, flying more than 1200 drones and choreographing them during the Winter Olympics. Amazon promises to deliver its products with drones, in 30 minutes.

Closer Home, A student has created a drone as a preventive measure for dengue

Siliguri, West Bengal – The drone scans an area and takes picture of stagnant water on terraces of high buildings. The reality of drones flying humans is not that far away either. This comprehensive list of examples doesn’t just tell us the scope of these fancy machines but how the world will look like in future. The true potential is still being explored- they can be used in agriculture, journalism, traffic monitoring, defense, health, disaster management- imagine how quickly first aid can reach disaster struck areas and how many lives can be saved with the help of these machines. So you do need to pay attention to these machines, because the world of tomorrow may not resemble the world of today.

While we tap into the potential of drones and what we can achieve with it, we also have to think of risks and threats that might be leashed and would need to be timely mitigated. How would drones work in the hands of terrorist organizations? What about the air traffic? Who can own them? Should drones be allowed for personal and commercial use? Or should the use of drones be regulated? What would entail the responsible use of this technology? How would diplomatic relations look like if neighboring countries are spying on each other with their drones? What is the line between surveillance and breach of privacy? What about when a drone is deemed unusable- how would that affect our environment? Would drones bridge the gap between need and access or would they further widen it?

These are questions that ensure that with the advent of new technology, we are also thinking about the consequences of it. Only when we ask these questions, can we design a responsible future that is both sustainable and beneficial. But nonetheless, drones are magnificent machines that are here to stay.

(Until we think of something cooler.)

Credits: Images Courtesy of Intel 
Disclaimer: Flying Drones in India is still not legal, and you need permission from DGCA (Department General of Civil Aviation). While there is a Draft Policy on Drones that is out, we are still waiting for a law around this.

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