I’ve always had a love for remote controlled toys and even as an adult, I’ve found a strong love for the drone. I bought my son a remote controlled helicopter a few years ago to learn the love of remote flying aircraft, but had I known there was an affordable drone, I would’ve went that route. With a wireless connection and streaming to an iPhone or Android device to creating a flight-path is not only a neat learning experience in aircraft, but a fun one, teaching them a bit of videography and areal photography, giving them an opportunity to be like the big guys or the military. This along with his programmable rover, model ships, and maybe a dancing robot would be enough toys to teach him robotics, cell phone technology and the mechanics of flight and communications.
I finally saw my first drone in person and I certainly was impressed, in fact, my eyes and ears were peeled for a good 10 minutes in awe of the possibilities and fun. It was a high flying, fast moving, swift little machine that could do flying tricks and hover over a property. I watched it for about 10 minutes, listening to its sounds, watching it fly high and low, come closer, and then land a few houses down. I couldn’t see if it was equipped with a camera, but several questions came to mind, like does it see me, how long can it fly, how is its path managed, and how does it stay connected?
They advertise for use with a Smartphone, but how does it maintain a long range connection and how does it work out of sight? I know I can’t access the Internet from a block away or connect a device to my cell phone if it’s too far out of range, so I wonder how these stay connected when they are so far up in the sky. I also wonder about the battery life on the object, clearly its enough to enjoy a leisurely flight to capture some images and do some tricks, guided by its pilot. It says they have a “return to home” feature to ensure safe landings, so I can imagine the flight path can be programmed easily for automatic flying if the application is connected to Google Places or some other mapping tool. The drone App Developer has a fun job, this I know for sure.
I started thinking of the implications and possibilities of the drone. Privacy seems to be the main concern of the public and drones offer an opportunity for violation by streaming video of anyone and everyone’s backyard, or on the flip side, its a new gadget to add to neighborhood watch programs if and when society gets smart enough. Honestly it seems no different than a private commercial aircraft flying over with a high powered zoom lens or Google’s Street View, its just a wider population with access to the fun.
We had a Law Enforcement helicopter circling the other night, on the loud speaker, looking for a hispanic wearing a black sweatshirt. It circled for about 30 minutes and I just wondered how much it cost to put that aircraft in flight and how much more effective it would’ve been or could be with the use of a drone or SMS Alerts to the public.
I can’t imagine the fun of a drone would last long after you’ve mastered flying. Streaming video or areal photography is really only fun with a purpose, such as an event or to assist in providing information to Geographic Information Systems. A drone owner produced footage of the California Wildfires to give a view of the damage, which was a nice and acceptable form of use. They are amazing for the Government as they provide a more efficient means of surveillance at a lower cost.
With an Internet connection, drones can be an amazing weapon in our arsenal to help keep the bad guys out. Can you imagine a drone with X-Ray vision or a gun sensor, providing data to law enforcement? Its certainly an excellent tool to regulate the cultivation of marijuana, as well as an information gathering tool for cities and counties. Or a cool way to deliver something to your neighbor down the street, something more appropriate for kids since adults seem to stick to their own fence line these days.
I just wonder if they will ever be able to use Google Places to create a flight path, as it seems simple enough. I’m sold and I can’t wait to buy one and run a few test flights for my little one.