Drones, or UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles), have received a negative reputation in recent years. Their rise in popularity for recreational usage but lack of laws regarding them has caused people to be weary and angry about their use. Many people are worried about their security and privacy with the drone’s use of any airspace, even if it’s directly above their property. Luckily, the laws are starting to catch up with this technology and many states are creating laws for issues that are coming up with the use of UAV’s. Either way, their reputation still seems to be shrouded in negativity. However, there are many positive uses of drones that have made a positive impact on society.
Agriculture drones are becoming very popular in the farming community. Despite stereotypes about farming, it is a very technologically open and advanced industry. Farming isn’t easy, so any help that is offered is welcomed progress. Right now drones are aiding in helping farmers understand and predict the livelihood of their crops. Drones are collecting data about crop yield, health, and weed cover. The drones are also motoring water and fertilizer application. Mapping drones are taking aerial images for a whole host of reasons including yield patterns, soil quality, and crop scouting. The drones aiding in fertilizer and water distribution are probably the most useful part of utilizing an agriculture drone because it’s having a big environmental impact while helping in the two biggest costs for farming.
Some of the “drones” aiding in fighting wildfires don’t really look like the drones many of us are used to seeing. The K-MAX chopper UAV, for instance, demonstrated for government officials in 2015 is the largest of the remotely piloted aircrafts that tried out for firefighting duty. This is a huge advancement in the safety of fighting wildfires. With pilots manning aircrafts that are working to contain wildfires, they are flying with poor visibility and in dangerous conditions. Smaller drones, however, are also used in aiding firefighters. They aren’t assisting in fire suppression like the K-MAX chopper plans to, but they have the ability to supply firefighters with information to help suppress the fire more effectively. With aerial photographs and information about the fire’s perimeter supplied to firefighters in a timely manner, they are both safer and able to suppress the fires faster.
Drones help with disaster relief in the same sort of way that they aid in the other situations. In disaster situations, drones are able to fly above disaster areas that can be unsafe for pilots and provide information to law enforcement or disaster relief teams on the ground. They relay information about dangerous areas and survivors faster and safer than other types of manned aircrafts can. A whole other type of relief comes into play when we start discussing the possibility of dropping off medical supplies with drones in disaster areas. So often in a medical emergency, timing is key. Drones that have the capability to deliver medical supplies would be able to reach survivors that might not be able to receive medical supplies otherwise. This capability has not been implemented yet, but the idea is being talked about.
Sharing stories in general has been much easier with drones aiding in aerial photography for journalism. From covering stories about floods to stories about concerts, drones are offering a view of news stories that were never available before. Visual representations of news stories have become more and more necessary but, unfortunately, some aspects of the news are hard to photograph or relay to readers. With the use of aerial photography, these stories are able to be told in a much more dynamic fashion. The use of drones in journalism is another issue that some have with privacy concerns. The media has seen scrutiny as a whole in regards to privacy in some circumstances, so having another way to take photos and video in a way that isn’t entirely regulated just yet has been seen as an issue in the world of UAV’s. However, overall the use of drones in this capacity definitely has more positives than negatives.
The issue of privacy comes into play again when drones are being used for law enforcement purposes. Indeed, police drones have been utilized in many areas and many of them are unregulated. Some are concerned about privacy laws involved with the use of surveillance drones, and it’s true that these types of drones are being used in some places. The FAA does have to approve the use of drones by police departments, but their approval has more to do with safety than privacy and relies on each state to create their own privacy laws.
The FAA has also stated that drones do, in fact, need to be registered by personal uses as well. Just be careful and research drone registration practices as some personal fliers have been scammed into paying for registration. Despite the laws that haven’t quite caught up to technology, police drones are aiding in other aspects of law enforcement such as search and rescue and crime scene photography. The possibilities in which drones can help law enforcement are immense such as aiding in suspect chases and providing intelligence in dangerous areas. Hopefully civilians will feel safer about the use of police drones once privacy laws catch up.
Despite the fact that drones sometimes receive a bad reputation from the lack of laws and incidents with drones in regards to privacy, drones have made a positive impact on many areas of society. With more information, more technology, and more regulation, UAV’s have the ability to be a great asset to many areas of life in a positive way. The scope of positive influence is just getting larger and with the addition of more laws, the uncertainty and mistrust is hopefully diminishing.