I have written two posts recently here on CloudTweaks about Drones. The first post references the Pizza Delivery Drone, and provides a somewhat comical look at what we may possibly see with future drones. The other post focuses on what is more likely in our immediate future, and looks at the concept of a modular drone. Modular drones can handle having a large number of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) attached to the drone itself. This would include cameras, which are pretty prevalent in space today. There are also sonar devices and 3DLaser Mapping cameras that can be attached to drones, as well as any number of CPS devices (like thermal imaging, infrared, and other technologies).
Since writing those two posts, a number of things have happened in the drone world which you should definitely know about. For Instance, a drone violated air-space over a US airport and nearly caused a passenger plane to crash. Another drone crashed while illegally hovering over the courts at the US Tennis Open in New York City. Not only that, but a video clip of a drone carrying and firing a semi-automatic pistol was posted on various internet sites.
As I thought about these instances, but especially the drone at the US Open in particular, my wheels started turning. Based on the drone concepts I previously shared, I started wondering when we will see marketing drones? I imagine it sort of like that old cartoon of the person walking along with their own personal dark cloud hanging over them; the rain is only falling on them. Except, with a personal advertising drone, the device would be displaying things you could buy or that you needed. It’s a strange idea, that in the end probably doesn’t make much sense. Drones have limited air time; would we really waste it on advertising? That aside, the truth is that, over time, the impact of drones will be tremendous.
(Image Source: Instructables)
3D Laser Mapping
There are a few great examples of things we could easily do today using drones that would have a great and fast impact. One such example would be using 3D laser mapping capabilities mounted on a drone to run continuous monitoring of roads. A laser map would show the road’s surface as it is right now. You then lay that over the existing map and you can dispatch repair trucks quickly and effectively. A new pothole would appear as an abnormality in the 3D laser mapped image. You could use dispatch software to have the repair crews move from pothole to pothole in a structured manner (less travel, more patching) as well. This allows the city, county, state or federal roads to be repaired quickly and kept pothole free. One pothole can quickly generate significant cost, lost time (as you sit by the side of the road with a completely flat tire), bills sent to the state, county, local offices of the Government for payment, as well as impact traffic flow as people come to a stop or try to avoid the pothole and hit another car. Using drones equipped with 3D Laser Mapping would really help in the world of potholes. Another thing we could do in this day and age with drones is 3D scanning of larger objects.
One could use a drone equipped with a 3D scanner to scan large statues and other large works of art. Or they could be used short-term and you never know where they would pop up, like monitoring the speed limit, or traffic incidents. While the overall cost of the system is higher, the reduction in collisions and accidents (and money earned by issuing tickets) would probably balance out that cost.
Currently, there are useful tools available for realtors to create VR images of a home they are selling, but using a drone to fly over of the roof and the property could also be interesting. Solar companies could use drones to give the home owner before and after pictures of their solar installation. Insurance Companies could do preemptive neighborhood roof checks. After hail storms they could fly drones over a neighborhood and then notify the home owners with damage before unscrupulous contractors wander through the neighborhood and create a larger number of claims than is really necessary.
All of these are things afforded by the use of aerial drones. There is an entire world yet to be seen. There are underwater and land based drones as well. Sonar imaging gives you a picture of the landscape of a pond. Sending a video system attached to an underwater drone allows you to see what is actually going on underwater. Police and Fire Departments use drones today to enter burning buildings and remotely disable explosive devices. All of these things provide more and more value as they expand from specialized markets into the broader commercial markets.
The number of things drones could do to improve the world around us is tremendous. Using your aerial drone with a thermal imaging camera you can find the mole in your backyard and remove it before your dog digs up the entire back yard. (Not that I am advocating you kill the mole. Rather that you pull the mole out of your yard and relocate it.) A drone could quickly lift your automated gutter cleaning system from one section of your roof to another. Fire departments could fly a thermal imaging drone over a roof before they go up there in an effort to find the hot spots where the roof might be weak. Fishermen could connect a fishing line to a drone with sonar attached then remotely release the line when they find a school of fish using the sonar device and a remote monitor. When you think about the endless possibilities available to us because of drones, it starts to make you wonder why they haven’t already become the hottest, newest mainstream item.
Anyway, I have to go now. There is a drone on my front porch saying I owe for a pizza. I am not sure I even ordered one.
By Scott Andersen
Scott Andersen is the managing partner and Chief Technology Officer of Creative Technology & Innovation. During his 25+ years in the technology industry Scott has followed many technology trends down the rabbit hole. From early adopter to last person selecting a technology Scott has been on all sides. Today he loves spending time on his boat, with his family and backing many Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects.