If you are anything like me, hearing the word ‘drone’ is pretty much the modern equivalent of hearing about the sentinels in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They sound technologically awesome, but lack any kind of human touch. That, and they might or might not eventually destroy us.
Sure they seem like a faraway concept, but the symbol of a drone is already a part of our daily lexicon. And as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos announces in a not-so-subtle P.R. move (Cyber Monday, anybody?) that the company will be using drones for delivery within a few years time, it is clear that we have arrived to the future.
But let’s be real for a second: how the hell are people (military you don’t count) using drones in unexpected ways?
1. Walking your kid to school
At least one helicopter parent in Vermont has used a homemade drone to walk his kid to the bus stop. Just picture that. A caring drone hovering over your child's head. He told NBC News that he does it because "If I am walking my kid to the bus stop in December and January, I would really rather not be doing that."
2. Telling farmers when to harvest crops
The project called AggieAir by Utah State University is using drone technology and infrared cameras together to help detect the optimum times for farmers to harvest their crops. The process has been dubbed “precision agriculture,” and also monitors conditions of the ground, telling farmers how moist the soil is, etc..
3. A new potential way to do paparazzi dirty work
Drone enthusiast Daniel Gárate has been using the technology to show off high-end real estate in Southern California for a while now. But in this New York Times article, he claims that he turned down an offer to use a drone to shoot Kim Kardashian’s wedding in 2011. Not too long before someone takes that same kind of challenge up.
4. Fighting insurgent graffiti
Street artists in Germany beware! Germany’s railway operator recently made plans to use drones to monitor the railway yards where graffiti is rampant.
5. Spying on monkeys
Ever wondered how scientists keep track of those orangutans in the wild? Now, thanks to drones they have an easy way to track conservation efforts, count nests, and overall get a better view of key habitat issues.
6. Spotting corporate polluters
At least one major environmental hazard was spotted outside Dallas, when an independent drone operator spotted a river running blood red, right next to a meat inspection plant. “Could this really be what I think it is?,” he asked. Yes. It was. SMDH.
7. Helping journalists spy on you
Don’t believe the hype if you hear of a journalist getting bothered by hyper-surveillance. It’s what we do. And now we have drones to help us with it. The University of Missouri Journalism School, in Columbia, Mo, is now teaching classes on how to use drones to report stories.
Thank you, drone Gods!
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.