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Drones … Just when you thought it was safe …

We're about to get some new 'constant companions' - but they may just make the world a safer place
Illustrative photo of an IDF soldier operating a reconnaissance drone. (photo credit: Tsahi Ben-Ami/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of an IDF soldier operating a reconnaissance drone. (photo credit: Tsahi Ben-Ami/Flash90)

I’ve spoken about drones in a previous blog post. It seems that the interest in this technology is growing by the day and new possibilities are being raised as to the potential uses for drones. Based on my own previous readings, a few ideas present themselves.

In developing countries, one may have all of the necessary resources to help the whole country, available in a central hub. The problem is getting these resources to their target site. Roads may often not exist. All it takes is a sudden natural event to make access to many regions of the country impossible. Drones would be ideal for this environment. They could fly high enough not to be bothered by various structures such as trees or lodgings. The condition of the roads would have no effect on the drones, and they could deliver significantly sized parcels to anywhere. In time, I would hope that solar power could at least partially feed the drones. Anything that would reduce fuel needs and increase potential distance and weight carriage would be welcomed. Such drones could be equipped with WebCams and could at the very least, store video of their travels that could then be later used for whatever purpose is needed.

Lost planes, boats and individuals out at sea can be extremely difficult if not often impossible to locate. At times, slow and tedious human searching of the area is the only option available. Drones on the other hand could be released in the thousands or tens of thousands to quickly fly over a very wide area, around the last known location of the lost planes, boats or people. In this case, it would be extremely useful to have WebCams that constantly feed video to a server that analyzes it, looking for any signs of wreckage or humans drifting or crying out for help. The total cost of using drones in this fashion would likely be far less than a human search.

Although I have been referring to losses at sea, there is no reason why the same technology could not be applied to searches in the mountains. The difference of course would be the landscape which would require the drones to be able to maneuver valleys and mountains. Drones would also be far less effective looking for individuals lost in the jungle. On the other hand, drones will eventually have all types of “vision” including infrared. This can definitely help with any search.

I imagine that drones will eventually accompany people in all types of situations. For example, the American police forces are being asked to wear cameras that will record their entire shift. Drones could potentially accompany police officers into any situation and provide immediate and critical information that would help in the pursuit and capture of criminals. Drones could also accompany private groups that indulge in somewhat dangerous travels. Imagine a drone constantly watching over a mountain climber and being ready to  inform authorities of any problems.

Over time, I also expect drones to be able to carry far more weight. There is no inherent reason why drones could not eventually be individual extraction units, from all types of situations. Obviously, carrying an additional 200 to 400 pounds would put a tremendous strain on the drones flying capability. On the other hand, this is effectively an engineering issue and will eventually be dealt with.

Drones will eventually become very important for research. In the movie Prometheus, the team of astronauts effectively used a set of drones to map out a whole array of caves and to spot any dangers. Drones could be used to investigate difficult and/or dangerous to reach areas. And the drone could carry equipment for taking samples and of course, videoing the entire quest.

These drone technologies will take time to be fully developed. However, once people are used to drones flying overhead for any number of purposes, it will be a safer world. I of course can already predict the challenges of those who are concerned that the spread of drone technology will simply be a further invasion of our privacy. All I can say is that given recent events, related to computer hacking and the release of “private information” of all sorts, I think that privacy is no longer an issue that should hold back useful technologies.

Thanks for listening

My website is at http://mtc.expert

About the Author
Dr. Nahum Kovalski received his bachelor's of science in computer science and his medical degree in Canada. He came to Israel in 1991 and married his wife of 22 years in 1992. He has 3 amazing children and has lived in Jerusalem since making Aliyah. Dr. Kovalski was with TEREM Emergency Medical Services for 21 years until June of 2014, and is now a private consultant on medicine and technology.
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