Top Ten Things to do with a Drone

Like most tools, the usefulness of a drone depends on who’s in control. There are number of examples that show how drones can be used to improve everyday life. If we extrapolate these applications into the next few years, perhaps we’ll see a future where everyone benefits.

The big difference between the older world of hobby RC flying and the new world of private drones is that the later can carry enough onboard computing power to achieve major levels of self-sufficiency. This is the technical reason why Quadcopters in particular have become so popular.

Here are the top ten things that will be capable by drones in the coming years:

Deliver Items:

China’s biggest internet retailer says it has begun testing drone-based deliveries to hundreds of customers.

Alibaba released a video showing how things will supposedly work from the moment a user orders an item and a drone is loaded and sent out to the moment when the item is delivered. It is using its drones to deliver orders for a specific type of ginger tea, helping limit the maximum weight of the packages to 340g (12oz).

Amazon, Google and parcel service UPS are among other companies carrying out more private trials of such aircraft.

Amazon has asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for an exemption from rules prohibiting the use of drones for commercial purposes.


Drones also have entertainment value. There are drones which are specifically made to play games such as fighting copter for drone-on-drone combat games. Their destructive properties can be channeled in such a way that allows humans to compete in combat without directly harming one another. Some groups have already started looking to “drone combat” as a sporting event. Can’t wait until robot wars goes to drone wars!

Monitor Crops:

Using drones for crop surveillance can drastically increase farm crop yields while minimizing the cost of walking the fields or airplane fly-over filming.

Drones can provide farmers with three types of detailed views. First, seeing a crop from the air can reveal patterns that expose everything from irrigation problems to soil variation and even pest and fungal infestations that aren’t apparent at eye level. Second, airborne cameras can take multispectral images, capturing data from the infrared as well as the visual spectrum, which can be combined to create a view of the crop that highlights differences between healthy and distressed plants in a way that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Finally, a drone can survey a crop every week, every day, or even every hour. Combined to create a time-series animation, that imagery can show changes in the crop, revealing trouble spots or opportunities for better crop management.

Capture unique footage of sporting events:

Drones have been used to film ski and snowboarding events at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, as you may have noticed. But the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for sports photography is far from a passing gimmick. In fact, you should expect more and more athletic events to be filmed by drone.

Drones are also more flexible than cable-suspended camera systems, which are present at most NFL games. While live transmission is tricky—it requires an extra transmitter, which weighs on the drone it can definitely be done!

Drones as servers:

Thanks to a staffing shortage, a restaurant chain in Singapore is bringing the flying robot machines inside to serve food and drinks.

One drone can whisk about five pounds worth of food or drinks to a customer’s table. But while the idea of a bunch of robots whizzing around a restaurant sounds futuristic, customers might also worry about how safe the drone servers are—and with good reason.

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3-D Mapping:

Small, lightweight drones may look like simple model airplanes, but they can survey landscapes with thousands of digital images that can be stitched together into 3-D maps. Military and other government satellites produce similar maps, but emerging UAV technology can put that capability in the hands of small companies and individuals, to be customized and used for a seemingly endless variety of applications.

There are a number of really cool startups that are working on this out of Silicon Valley including DroneDeploy and SkyCatch.

Protecting Wildlife:

The U.S. government already uses drones to protect its lands and the species that inhabit them.

“The Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management, and the United States Geological Service use UAVs, and by and large they use military surplus stuff, like the small Ravens, to monitor wildlife populations or map roads and wetlands for land management purposes,” said AUVSI’s Gielow in June. “It’s going to revolutionize how they go about this kind of work.”

Search and Rescue:

An injured victim of an automobile accident in Saskatchewan, Canada, in May 2013 may have been the first person to have his life saved by a search-and-rescue drone.

When Royal Canadian Mounted Police responded to a late-night rollover in a remote location, they found that the disoriented driver had wandered off. A ground search and an air ambulance helicopter with night-vision gear failed to find him.


Real time live-view on your mobile device allows you take photos and videos from a completely new perspective.

Want one that can take pictures? Check out the DJI Phantom 2.

Ad making:

Ad makers say drones can give a more polished, cinematographic look with sweeping aerial shots that can make the TV spots stand out from the usual slash and burn of dark negative commercials. They could follow a candidate’s campaign bus down a road, take beauty shots of different places he’s visited and snap images of where he grew up.

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