From a PR standpoint this is not a good time to be a drone. Most mentions of drones in the media are not particularly flattering. You hear about military drones, predator drones, pepper-spray-bullet drones — yes, really — and drones used by creepy guys. Any mention of the word drone is usually followed by the potential threats drones pose to our safety and our privacy.
It could really hurt someone's feelings... if drones were capable of having feelings, I suppose.
But it turns out that drones have a software side, too. And it's not just because design maven Martha Stewart has been posting pictures of her Connecticut farm taken by a DJI Phantom drone. Even with regulations limiting commercial drone use in the US and elsewhere, hobbyists, scientists, videographers and others have discovered numerous ways for drones to do good, save lives and make the world a happier place. Here are five great examples.
Drones can give us new perspectives
Because they can go where most people can't, drones can help give us a view we normally couldn't enjoy. And that enables new ways to learn, understand, and express ourselves. Take a DJI Phantom — available for less than $1500 — fit it with a GoPro camera, and set it loose in the skies above Manhattan, and you'll get an appreciation for how drones can enhance your outlook on things.
But it's not just amazing surfing videos or footage shot from within a fireworks spectacular: drones can also give us a different view on something as complex as how the New York Public Library routes millions of books, DVDs and other media across its 150 branches. A Phantom 2 quadcopter drone carrying a GoPro Hero 3 recorded this video of the library's massive routing facility.
UCLA's football program has also turned to drones. Coaches are using camera-equipped drones during practice for a view of the action along the line of scrimmage. UCLA's coaches think the view will give them information players' footwork and speed. It's easy to see a future where drones move from the practice field to the games themselves, offering fans a new way to experience the action. Forget shots from the Goodyear blimp: give us a dozen drones streaming views from every angle.
Drones can help us see the world
Traveling to remote parts of the globe can be thrilling; it can also be costly. Riding along, virtually, with a drone, can help you see places you might not otherwise get to visit, and you don't even have to update your pasport. Travel By Drone crowdsources drone videos from around the world, offering a unique view of the places you may someday get a chance to visit for real.
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