The Sky Truly is the Limit
Unmanned aerial vehicle usage dates back to 1849 when the Austrian government used balloons loaded with explosives for a military attack on Venice. While primitive and not matching our modern definition of a UAV, the ingenuity of this militaristic strategy opened the door for continued innovation and the products we use today.
We see companies in almost every market testing, budgeting for, or researching drone technological for their own use. The most media centric example is Amazon’s package delivery service that will be able to travel 15 miles with a package of up to 5 lbs. The public has been gripped by this new technology and its ease of use which allows for cheaper and faster delivery of products.
Commercial drone use is now emerging in the human transportation markets of Dubai, Melbourne, Dallas, and Los Angeles. Big names like Boeing, Lockheed Martin Corp., and Uber are racing startups to show their proof of concept and gain early entrant market share having the potential to touch every American life.
In healthcare many systems are looking to employee UAV technologies in the delivery of blood products from rural facilities, help deliver medication to the site of a drug over-dose – helping to address the opioid crisis, in Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, in the assistance of organ delivery, and in the on-site video relay of trauma events to a health care provider, just to name a few.
Other current projects are:
• in agriculture, drones are helping farmers analyze water usage, lower machine and labor costs, quickly view under producing crop fields and maximize space and limit water usage;
• in the world of engineering drones are assisting professionals in the maintenance of USinfrastructure;
• in security and public safety markets, drones are monitoring the streets and collecting data to better analyze or track criminal activity in urban areas;
• in Hollywood drones are used to quickly capture images and video for areas previously addressed via more expensive helicopter operators;
• in telecommunications companies are looking to deploy internet and phone services to large service areas from static drones located overhead;
• And even in the insurance field drones are being used to better identify claims data and fraud identification.
The drone will continue to solidify its place of importance along side the wheel, the iPhone, and penicillin. Its possibilities are only limited by the minds addressing change and programming possibilities.
George Jetson will be your next door neighbor in a city full of public air transportation options where your food is delivered fresh to your door in minutes and internet and cell phone service is beamed to your devices via a static drone 10+ miles above your head. The world of business will be forced to adapt or fail as new unmanned systems are deployed into everyday operations from environmental services, to food delivery to process automation and personalized service delivery in an attempt to streamline processes, reduce labor, increase speed, and attend to customer demands.
While the lobbying efforts of private industry are gaining traction, there is no doubt that the FAA and sister departments have entered into a new era of decision making. The benefits are incalculable to those in both rural and urban areas; however the risks need to be accurately taken into account, researched, and tested. Test sites across the county such as Northern Plains UAS Test Site of North Dakota and the NIAS Unmanned Aviation Safety Center of Excellence in Nevada are working closely with governments to test flight systems and technology capabilities to ensure safe commercial and business usage.