Civilian Drones: Conserving Wildlife to Monitoring Oil Pipelines
While in defense sector, UAVs are used to collect information within enemy territories as well as carry offensive weapons, drone technology finds a myriad applications across various commercial sectors.
• Drone Technology in Wildlife Conservation: Wildlife conservation projects around the world have started using autonomous drones to collect timely, high-resolution data about the endangered animal species. For example, a team of scientists from Liverpool John Moores University have been able to study critically endangered Sumatran orangutans with the help of inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicles.
• Drones in Oil Industry: To monitor oil pipelines in Alaska, the federal regulators have legalized the use of commercial drone flights. Drones have been also used in Alaska to monitor sea lion migrations and ice floes.
• Drones in Agriculture: Drone technology is being used in agriculture to identify areas of plant damage, disease or irrigation problems. Close monitoring of crops through drones will improve water management and pest control.
• Drones for Delivering Packages: Last year, e-commerce platform Amazon made an interesting announcement with its plan to design future delivery system through unmanned aerial vehicles. If the plan gets approved by the regulatory authorities, the Amazon Prime Air will be able to safely deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes or less.
• Drones for Real Estate: For real estate marketing, drones are being used to capture low altitude close-range photographs of the properties.
Drones & Privacy: A Long Debate
Growing use of drones has led people to wonder about its impact on privacy. Unwanted aerial surveillance from privately owned, unmanned aircraft has compelled regulatory authorities to assess the implications of drone technology. In the U.S., the Congress has not yet seriously considered a bill to formulate general privacy standards and regulate drones. However, states such as Virginia has put a strong guard against some public drone operation by state personnel. With the advancement in unmanned flight technology, the debate on safeguarding privacy amid privately owned drones is likely to grow further.