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What drones can do for you

Brian S Hall | July 29, 2014
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.

The non-profit Conservation Drones organization shares best practices for building low-cost drones for use in conservation-related activities, which include assessing water sources, tracking poachers, and monitoring wildlife in difficult terrain. The group's work can also educate the public on pressing conservation issues, such as deforestation in the jungles of Indonesia.

Drones can save lives

Speaking of boldly going to hard-to-reach locales, drones can also help get supplies, medicine, and other assistance to both remote places and disaster sites. Matternet, for example, is developing low-cost, low-energy drones to not only bring medicine but also shuttle blood tests to regional health facilities for areas that are unreachable. Nearly 1 billion people do not have year-round access to roads, and in sub-Saharan Africa, 85 percent of roads are inaccessible during the rainy season.

Drone Adventures, meanwhile, operate "drone missions" in conjunction with relief organizations to provide a visual assessment of areas devastated by typhoons, such as in the Philippines, or after the earthquake and subsequent nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, Japan. Drone Adventures provided high-resolution maps of still-abandoned zones, helping to assess cleanup and reconstruction efforts.

 

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