Amazon’s drone plans were met with derision, but unmanned aircraft could benefit a wealth of industries.
Drones are deemed by many to be privacy-invading precursors to Skynet, heralding a terrifying age where constant mass surveillance by robots is part of everyday existence.
Thanks also to numerous US military assassinations of foreign targets using drones – known by their makers as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – the devices are largely seen in a negative light.
Yet their potential uses in the commercial world are vast and, ostensibly, positive. The agriculture and mapping industries are expected to buy up the lion’s share of UAVs in the coming years, whilst delivery of various products, from books to drugs, could be carried out by drone armies in the near future.
It was odd then that Amazon’s revelation it was testing drones for delivery was met with widespread scorn by manufacturers. It was just a PR stunt, many crowed. “They know it won’t happen, we know it won’t happen,” says Nigel King, director of QuestUAV, a UK-based provider of mapping drones. “Forget Amazon.”