Abstracts in this Pattern:
A project by Resolve's (Washington, DC) Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions Program, the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (Arusha, Tanzania), and the Mara Elephant Project (Nairobi, Kenya) has had success in using drones to prevent conflicts between humans and elephants in communities close to the Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks in Tanzania. Data from 51 field trials show that drones can reliably drive wild elephants away from contested areas, thereby protecting them from humans. And in an effort to address concerns about dwindling bee populations, researchers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (Tokyo, Japan) have created a prototype insect-size drone capable of pollinating plants.
Decreases in the cost and size of drones have increased military interest in drone technology. The US Department of Defense (Arlington County, Virginia) recently tested a swarm of 104 electric microdrones, dispersing the drones from three jets above the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California. The Perdix drones—originally developed during a student project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge, Massachusetts)—have been modified for military use by researchers at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. During the test, the Perdix drones demonstrated autonomous swarming capabilities such as "self-healing communications, self-adapting formation flying, and collective decision-making." And industrial use of drones can prevent human workers from experiencing deadly accidents such as falls from power lines and electrocutions. Power utility AES Corporation (Arlington, Virginia) is working with Measure (Washington, DC), which develops software that turns drones into service machines, to create fleets of inspection drones that can perform hazardous inspections and maintenance work. AES is making increasing use of drones that take close-up video of power lines and electrical equipment that human inspectors can view on a computer monitor.
Most small electric rotor-driven drones suffer from short flight times because of the shortcomings of the batteries they use. H3 Dynamics (Singapore, Singapore) recently unveiled a fuel-cell-powered multirotor drone that weighs only 7 kilograms and can fly for ten hours without refueling, which gives it a flight distance of 500 kilometers. Such capabilities could one day enable a broad array of new drone applications.
The Development of this Pattern
Data from 51 field trials show that drones can reliably drive wild elephants away from contested areas, thereby protecting them from humans.
In an effort to address concerns about dwindling bee populations, researchers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have created a prototype insect-size drone capable of pollinating plants.
AES is making increasing use of drones that take close-up video of power lines and electrical equipment that human inspectors can view on a computer monitor.
Drones' 1,001 Uses
The decreasing size and expanding capabilities of drones are enabling an increasingly wide range of applications.
- P0330 — Autonomous Robots in the Wild (April 2012)
Employment of autonomous and semiautonomous robots is becoming reality. The use of drones for military and law-enforcement purposes has become familiar, and increasing use of autonomous construction robots could be just around the corner.
- SoC600 — Roaming Machines (August 2012)
This Signal of Change elaborates on developments indicating that the use of autonomous vehicles is at an inflection point: Lab-tested technologies are moving to real-world applications.
- P0576 — Drone Logistics (December 2013)
Companies are investigating the use of small autonomous drones to deliver goods and even to act as personal guides.
- SoC796 — Drone Update (May 2015)
This Signal of Change presents recent developments in drone technologies and applications.
- P0833 — Crowded Skies (October 2015)
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles has increased rapidly within the past two years. Traffic coordination and control are becoming issues.
- SoC866 — A Flock, a Pack, a Shoal of Drones (April 2016)
A future in which autonomous drones occupy the air, land, and water might take years to arrive, but such a future is becoming increasingly conceivable.
- P0998 — Drones on Top of the Hype Cycle (December 2016)
The potential applications of unmanned aerial vehicles seem limitless; concerns about market hype exist.