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6 of the best uses of drones

PUBLISHED: 16:29 22 April 2016 | UPDATED: 16:29 22 April 2016

You may have seen recently that drones were banned from the Super Bowl in the US, or the recent incidents involving drones flying too close to commercial aeroplanes. In 2015 the FAA reported that there had been over 700 incidents involving close-calls with drones.

It seems that drones are increasingly becoming more of a hindrance than a help as pilots are abusing the unmanned aerial vehicles ability to access almost all areas. In light of these recent events many people are overlooking just how useful drones can actually be. We’ve put together 6 examples of why drones are useful and why they don’t necessarily deserve this bad reputation that they seem to be developing recently.

Saving lives: Drones have a wide range of applications for disaster relief. They are able to enter radiation-filled “hot zones” where human access would be dangerous (after a nuclear accident, for example) or to search for survivors across a debris-filled landscape. They have already been successfully for humanitarian response on various occasions, most notably in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 and in Haiti after 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.

Shipping: Drones can be used to deliver all sorts of goods, from food, packages even medicines or healthcare support. In July 2015, the FAA approved the first use of a drone within the United States, to deliver medicine to a rural Virginia medical clinic in a program called “Let’s Fly Wisely. There have also been plans for a UAV known as the ‘Ambulance Drone’ that will be capable of delivering defibrillators to patients after they had suffered cardiac arrest. In 2013 Amazon announced their plans to launch ‘Amazon Prime Air’ – the idea to use drones to deliver light packages to customer’s doorsteps within 30 minutes of ordering. As of 2015 the FAA granted them permission to start testing a prototype.

Racing: Believe it or not, drone racing is actually a thing now. The Drone Racing League (DRL) had its first official competition in December 2015 ad was a huge success. Pilots are given custom-made drones that can fly at speeds exceeding 80 miles per hour; the camera work is done in third person so viewers will get a close up of all the exciting action. Nicholas Horbaczewski, CEO of the DRL, is hoping people will eventually see the DRL as a completely new sport. “The goal is to reach as many people as possible and make them aware of the sport,” Horbaczewski previously told Tech Insider. “There are drone racing activities in almost ever country we looked at it — it has a global footprint.”

Atmospheric research: Ozone in the upper atmosphere is essential as a safe-guard to the Earth’s surface from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In an attempt to better understand how water vapour and ozone interact, NASA sent a UAV into the stratosphere — the layer of the atmosphere where protective ozone is found — above the tropics. There have also been plans to use drones to explore the surface of Mars – a very difficult feat given the difference in the force of gravity on Mars to that of Earth.

Photography/Filming: Drones are able to access almost any area, attach a camera and you’re potential for great photographs are practically limitless. Whether using a drone to stalk and photograph animals in the wild (as seen in the Attenborough series ‘Conquest of the Skies’), or getting up close and personal in sports that are often difficult to film such as surfing, downhill skiing, cycling and even motor-sports.

Security: Police surveillance, border control, and highway/motorway patrol the applications of drones for security are huge. Police in London successfully trialled using drones to patrol Gatwick Airport in 2015 and they have since rolled out this idea for use in other airports across the country. We even ran a story in January about the Octocopter, a drone designed to capture other drones using a net.

Drones are effective in security for lots of reasons:

- Health and safety of officers

- They are stealthy

- Able to access difficult areas

- Incredibly quick response times

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