Exactly how the Federal Aviation Administration(FAA) will integrate drones into the civilian aviation system remains unknown (to the general public). But what we do know, thanks to a Bloomberg scoop, is that the first commercial drones will have strict limitations imposed upon them. They cannot fly higher than 500 feet, must remain in line of sight of an operator (so no long-range flights); must only fly during daytime, and not fly over crowds.
The FAA has identified four categories where these unmanned aircraft systems will be used:
- Aerial photography
- Law enforcement and search-and -rescue
- Inspections of bridges
Already, significant economic benefits have been estimated from the use of these drones in these areas. By way of example, if the use of drones to inspect crops results in cost savings of around $5 an acre, this alone could generate billions in value, according to the FAA.
The beautifully-made video below shows the extraordinary potential of drones in the field of saving lives; it will soften even the most technology-resistant of hearts. You’ll be inspired, and probably better informed about drones by the time you finish watching it.
Almost a million people in Europe are said to suffer from a heart attack every year. Less than 10 percent survive, largely due to the slow response times of ambulance services. With speeds of over 100km an hour, drones of the kind shown in the video can reach their destination in around a minute, increasing the chances of survival dramatically.
Delivering defibrillators to cardiac patients is not the only example of the life-saving capacity of drones. As reported in the Daily Mail, one British company, RTS Ideas, has already developed and tested a prototype for a "lifeguard drone" (coming to a beach near you...). Armed with lights, cameras and rubber rings, RTS Ideas’ drones could be sent out by lifeguards to rescue people stranded at sea, dropping up to three rubber rings from the air. Importantly, the drones would be able to reach people in a fraction of the time it would take for human lifeguards.
Although on the spectrum of sexiness these unmanned aerial systems is not even close to your average strapping totally ripped lifeguard, RTS Ideas believes that these lifeguard drones could, eventually, decrease the number of people who drown by up to 60 percent. Drones used in this way would also decrease the danger posed to lifeguards, who typically have to battle through choppy waves. Check out the video here:
In addition to the two examples described, these unmanned aerial systems have also been shown to be of immense value in helping police to look for missing persons. Other situations where drones could have life-saving value, as described in Bloomberg’s report, is in performing inspections of radio and telecommunications towers and in aerial photography: in one incident, nearly 100 workers died as a result of climbing telecommunication towers between the period of 2004 -2012. In another incident, up to 17 manned aircraft performing aerial photography crashed killing a large number of people during the period of 2005-2009. Using drones instead of humans to perform these inspections would certainly save lives.
What are your thoughts about drones and their potential? And what are your comments about the two videos shown? Use the box below for any comments.