Imagine a future chock full of unmanned vehicles, more commonly referred to by the ominous, near-Star Warsian term “drones.” Did your brain just go to a scary place, where missiles and James Bond lasers are raining down on us all? Well, you’re certainly not alone.
But what about the awesome side of the future? With jetpacks and whole meals in a single pill and robots that rub your feet after a long day of jetpacking! Drones can be part of that future, too, and they almost certainly will be — which of course won’t make them any less terrifying.
Despite the fear they often rightfully elicit, here are nine reasons why drones are actually awesome (as well as a few why they aren’t):
1. Drones Can Map The World In Stunning Detail
Drones not only allow versatility in mapping terrain, they also allow us to get highly detailed renders of the environment that we can’t get from satellites. This year, the people at the UAV team SenseFly and the aerial photography company Pix4D launched three drones to navigate and scan the Matterhorn, one of the tallest peaks in the Swiss Alps. The drones did so in just six hours, creating a stunningly detailed 3D model of the iconic mountain, made up of 300 million mapping points.
Think of it. In the future, drones could map out the entire Earth with extreme detail, then allowing us to play “Earth: The Video Game” on our Playstation 20s.
2. Drones Work Tirelessly To Help Save Lives…
In a poll about drone use, a whopping 83 percent of respondents said they approved of using the devices for search and rescue operations.
Understandably, using drones for search and rescue isn’t very controversial, and in fact we’ve been using robots in such scenarios for years. Perhaps not airborne robots, but roboticists have developed many robots built to navigate rubble or tightly enclosed spaces. From amoeba-inspired robots to Japan’s small army of earthquake response droids, the land drone has been around, or at least in development, for years now.
In the U.S., the first real test for modern rescue drones occurred after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Robots could venture deep into the rubble, farther than dogs or humans were able to.