Although the military have been using drones for over ten years (e.g. The Predator drone) the possibility of smaller portable drones is being more likely. The development of these technologies is expected to grow exponentially as many nations recognize the possibilities of drone warfare. Many drones are being designed for surveillance but others will be equipped with offensive capabilities.
Innovation in camera technology has had a significant impact on the capabilities of drones meaning that emergency response teams can have better sight than the human eye. Land Rover recently partnered with Red Cross Australia to create a custom emergency response vehicle with an aerial drone mounted on the roof. This will allow teams to locate people faster using a thermal camera and a system to allow the drone to land on the vehicle while in motion. Another example is an ambulance drone developed by the Delft University of Technology that would deliver defibrillators. This would expand the reach of emergency services and increase survival rates in both urban and rural areas.
Aid and Disaster Relief.
As well as emergency response, drones have shown their usefulness during natural disasters. UAVs have been used to assess damage, locate victims and deliver aid.
This industry has the most direct impact on the health, life expectancy and living standards of people. But it can prove difficult to get medical supplies into secluded corners of the world. With the advent of drone-assisted delivery, people will have quick access to drugs, blood and most other medical technology.
With the gowning global population, efficient farming is becoming more and more important. Farmers are trying desperately to reduce cost while also increasing yields. Drones can help in many areas including: data gathering, automation and general efficiency. Examples include autonomous tractors and autonomous crop picking machines.
There are an estimated 1.65 million people serving on international merchant ships today. Rolls Royce of all people are developing a technology to control such ships remotely, saving on a huge range of expenses having manned vessels.
The mining industry is extremely capital heavy and requires the regular assessment of physical material. But with specialty cameras, drones can measure the volume of stockpiles from the air as well as survey operations thus reducing the risks for surveyors on the ground. UGVs can also prove useful as they can be controlled from afar and reduce the need for expensive ground staff.
Drones have proven extremely useful in the real estate industry as they can be used to create footage to show the size and relation of spaces extremely effectively. This is also seen as more trustworthy as this kind of footage cannot be faked. Whereas images can be edited and captured in such a way to deceive potential buyers. Indoor drones have also been used to capture impressive 3d walkthroughs of houses showing the layout in an extremely captivating way.
Although maybe a bit farther off than we wish, autonomous drones could be another way to travel. And with minimal input from the passenger, a drone can maneuver around dense urban environments with ease.
One aspect of the industry includes the inspection of towers for damage and wear. After Hurricane Harvey, AT&T and Verizon used drones to inspect their telecommunication towers. These assessments would have been too dangerous and costly to perform manually. These drones assessed the damage and deploy repair teams as effectively as possible.
Both Facebook and Google have begun to tackle to challenges of using drones to provide internet access to the rest of the world. Their focus has been on solar powered balloon drones utilizing Wi-Fi and LTE technology.
For some time sporting arenas have utilized robotic cameras suspended from cables above the field. But drones are becoming more popular as a cheaper alternative.
The film industry was one of the first to adopt drones for filming purposes as they could capture aerial footage without the need for expensive helicopters. Many films have already taken advantage of such technology including Guardians of The Galaxy and La La Land.
Amazon is already working on its own drone delivery service and has taken out a number of patents that show much promise in the area. Drones could offer faster and more efficient means of delivery for both land and air alternatives. Matternet has made efforts to create a delivery system using delivery vans and drones.
Crime and Crime Fighting.
Although drones offer incredible technologies to the word, they are also incredibly attractive to the criminal underground and organized crime. Some drones are capable of speeds over 60 kmh and can carry considerable payloads. These kinds of drones are ideal for transporting illegal cargo and so law enforcement will need to combat these advances with new technics and technologies.