The "Drone Click" Button
Civilian drones crisscrossing the skies, delivering packages from Amazon —
perhaps with a "drone click" button added to their "one click" option — seems
inevitable. The first crucial step was taken on December 30, 2012, when the FAA
(Federal Aviation Administration) identified the five states that would host research
into civilian drone use: Alaska, Nevada, New York, Texas, and Virginia. Alaska and
Nevada seem like no-brainers, given the open space and military drone testing
already well established in these states.
Texas, Virginia, and New York, on the other hand, will no doubt provide some
interesting data points. Sure, there will be farmers in Virginia using drones to survey
their crops and perhaps even perform some surgical crop dusting — all without
exposing the remote pilot to toxic weed killer. Then, there's the prospect for package
delivery to hospitals, businesses, and perhaps even individual consumers. (Maybe
I should look into patenting that "drone click" button before Amazon has a crack
In populated cities, I can see the utility in flying, say, a kidney for transplant
from one regional hospital to another via drone. Helicopter pilots may not be keen
on being replaced by a cheaper alternative that can be flown by computer or
someone kicking back in an Aeron chair working a joystick. For the rest of us,
there's value in moving objects from place to place as quickly and as cheaply as
possible. Perhaps there's even a place for those helicopter pilots among the ranks of
There is a potential downside, of course. I wouldn't feel comfortable knowing
that the sky is filled with surveillance drones, piloted by someone in my local police
department. Perhaps it's irrational — I know that the NSA and other government
agencies have satellites that monitor much of the US. It's one thing to be one of a
few million and another to be tracked by a drone that's flown (or at least monitored)
by local police or even a local business. Do you want a local contractor to email you,
for example, with an offer to fix your roof based on surveillance footage collected by
a drone? Or, your employer to know, for example, that you weren't actually home
sick but at the beach enjoying the sun?
Clearly, there are issues to be resolved. Some will involve laws and lawmakers.
Some will involve money and economics. Clearly, a prerequisite is that the tests in
these five cities prove the worth of drones and the information they can collect.
I don't know about you, but I'm ready for that "drone click" button now… SV
Mind / Iron
by Bryan Bergeron, Editor ;
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ERVO FOR THE ROBOT INNOVATOR
6 SERVO 02.2014