Future Flyers: How Drones Have Changed Our World and Are Evolving

drone technology

Drones have come a long way from their military days, and are facing a bright future ahead for everyday consumer and business use. Indeed, from being used in the 1990s for both combat and reconnaissance missions by the U.S. military, drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have since expanded their use for a variety of modern-day applications. Disrupting industries like agriculture, logistics, public safety, photography, and sports, drones are definitely poised to reimagine how things will be done in the future.

Drones today

Advancements in technology have pushed drones to the mainstream market, with a variety of drones now available for any kind of budget. Case in point, the drones on Adorama range from $16.99 to a whopping $27,000, with models for people who just want to try them out, to high-end machines for hobbyists and professionals alike. This increased accessibility is paving the way for drones to be used in a variety of daily activities, such as taking unique photos or even sending packages.

Drones are even used for business purposes. For instance, in agriculture, Business Insider reports that farmers are using repurposed drones for surveying and mapping, as well as crop dusting and spraying. Drones are also making precision agriculture possible by giving farmers a way to monitor crop and livestock conditions by air. In this way, they are able to quickly spot problems such as poor irrigation, pest infestation, and unwanted flooding.

Film crews are also leveraging drone technology, after the Federal Aviation Administration cleared drone use for film production in 2014. They deploy UAVs to scout locations, plan shot details, and capture hard-to-get shots. Drones are used prominently in filming chase scenes (as in the opening motorcycle sequence of the James Bond film Skyfall in 2012), aerial shots, (like that of the raucous party scene in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street in 2013), and creative action scenes (as in the Jurassic World scene where drone-mounted cameras mimicked the movement of pterosaurs).

The above are just a few examples of how drones are being used today, but as drone technology improves, both businesses and consumers alike are bound to use them for more creative and productive purposes.

Drones in the future

One industry that drones will likely disrupt is transportation. The Ehang 184 Passenger Taxi Drone offered a glimpse of the future, when UAVs will be taking people to their destinations and changing how we travel. Three years later, that future seems more likely, with Ehang planning to launch the world’s first autonomous air taxi service soon. At the center of this ambitious plan is the Ehang 216, the two-seater, 16-rotor successor to the one-seater Ehang 184.

Another sector poised to benefit from drones in the future is law enforcement, with Police Chief Magazine even envisioning a future where drones will assist police officers in various law enforcement scenarios. If the Chula Vista 60-day pilot conducted in California two years ago is any indication, drones will be extremely helpful in locating wanted subjects, monitoring disturbances, and checking areas, among other things. These will, in turn, make law enforcement more efficient, but without overtaxing uniformed personnel.

While the potential applications of drones are near never-ending, there are a trio of roadblocks that keep drones from fully taking off: Federal Aviation Administration regulations, limited UAV flight time, and privacy concerns. Once these roadblocks are cleared, expect drones to figure prominently in most industries, including those that involve transportation (e.g., logistics, product shipping), site assessments (e.g., search and rescue, geographic monitoring), and photography.

Roadblocks notwithstanding, the future of drones sure looks promising. If you want more interesting technology-related news, check out more in Jetset’s Technology section and stay up-to-date with every new application of UAVs.