The term “drone” simply refers to an unmanned aerial vehicle or machine; considering this definition, the earliest man-made unmanned aerial vehicle was a hot air balloon used for bombardment in 1839. The first modern, state of the art drone was made in 1916 by Great Britain based on Tesla’s design. Drone technology development increased after World War I, and drones subsequently become much smaller and more efficient.
While they were initially developed for war purposes, today drones are not just serving the armed forces but also helping multiple industries in areas such as surveillance, tracking, and other security purposes. They are doing important work in relatively little time, things that take humans weeks and months to do, and making our life much safer and better.
For example, drone technology is having a huge impact on warehouses and inventories in giant companies like Amazon and Walmart. These warehouses are getting bigger and bigger, and it would take humans weeks and months to scan every product, report those that are missing, and otherwise manage the inventory. Drone technology can quickly scan and automatically add, remove, and report missing products in inventory through direct interaction with software.
Drones have also benefited the retail industry by increasing efficiency, decreasing margins of error, and reducing manual intervention, thereby saving costs. Processes that used to take days and weeks to complete can be done rapidly using drones. Companies can now fully check inventory and report missing items in less than a day, which used to take months to do manually.
In the construction industry, manually doing real-time surveys, visiting sites, and tracking risks and dangers is quite difficult, and there are always margins of error that can cause big blunders and damage. Drones are now being used for real-time surveys and surveillance to quickly visit construction sites, collect information, and automate data delivery to organizations for better insights.
Defense is the “mother” of drone technology, as it first grew and prospered in the hands of the armed forces. It came out of the defense services’ desire to destroy an enemy’s equipment and accessories without risking million-dollar aircraft. They also wanted to discreetly keep an eye on their enemies’ posts and deposits. Drones carry missiles and explosives to hit targets with maximum accuracy and very low margins of error. Critical missions that previously used aircraft and manpower can now be done remotely by drones.
The benefits are huge; not only does it save million-dollar aircraft, but it also saves the lives of soldiers and gets work done with greater accuracy and efficiency.
As the technology matures, drones will extend into other areas, including:
- Drone as an ambulance: In the future, drones will serve as flying ambulances that can deliver medicines and first aid kits to patients anywhere, anytime. They can also be equipped with cameras so doctors can examine people remotely and give medical guidance in an emergency.
- Drone as a delivery vehicle: Drones can deliver products to people in less time than human delivery drivers. Large companies like Amazon and online food vendors are thinking about this concept and ways to implement it soon for customers’ benefit.
Drones, now in their seventh generation, are impacting our day-to-day lives and creating very positive impacts. They ease our daily lives in areas including transport, entertainment, defense, and security, and soon we will see drones hovering over us to contribute to our work. Drones are an extremely valuable invention, and their potential use cases suggest they will revolutionize our lives with a whole new era of technology.
For more on drone uses, see “Six Ways Airports Are Improving Safety.”