The future is coming
Over the past couple of decades, technology changed every aspect of life, creating a digital society, we all live into. And, as this digital society is evolving, even by spawning its own “digital natives”, as the young people of the newer generations are labelled, it is ironic that 15 years ago people were using the phones just to make phone calls. Nonetheless, as years go by, more and more innovations are appearing in this digital world.
Latest innovation the world is facing is the drones, or unmanned aircraft systems, as the enthusiasts call them. These little robots that fly over the sky took the world by storm as not even the experts from FAA expected such a big demand for drones. If in 2010 the FAA was expecting that in ten years there will be around 15,000 licensed drone pilots in the States, now they are forecasting that by 2020 the number of drone pilots will reach 1.3 million. Moreover, in 2016 there were sold around 2.2 million drones, double than how many were sold in 2015. Obviously, there is no doubt that drones are no more a hobby. However, they are not a necessity yet, but they are slowly becoming one. The Same thing occurred when Apple first launched Macintosh in the ’80s. Fast forward 30 years and there is no business that would be able to function without a PC. This may not be the case for the drones, though. But only time will tell. Nonetheless, let’s see what impact this new innovation had for the society.
The advantages of using these flying robots are obvious. Firstly, agriculture would really thrive if drones would be used by every farmer. Allen Bishop, of Reference Technologies, stated that the drones will become as common on farms as pick-up trucks and tractors. He also stated that in the case of soil infestation, right now, the farmers would hire the local sprayer that would spray all the field. However, a drone would be able to spray only the infested zone. This way money would be saved and food would have fewer chemicals from the insecticide. Another good use of the drone is surveillance. These devices would be able to find missing people, monitor pipelines for leaks, but also to track erosion, rivers’ changing flows or inspect glaciers. Moreover, because a drone can get where mankind sometimes struggles, archaeologists use them to see inside crates of active volcanoes or caves inaccessible to humans. Architects also started using drones to have a wider view of a building and be able to have a closer and larger look in order to ease the creation of 3D maps. One of the most recent uses of the drones is the Amazon delivery. If this project is being successfully finalised and up and running worldwide, this is a big step in innovation and the future will surely look bright for Amazon and its users. This can save money, but time as well, as there will not be any need for drivers, vans or gas. And it can also be considered a great action for the environment because drones do not pollute. One great use of a drone that saved a life occurred when a fireman from Maine used a drone to send two boys that were stuck on a rock in a river, life jackets, while an inflatable boat was sent to pick them up.
However, the bad side of drones is that, as every new gadget, facilitate a lot of illegal activities. They were used to smuggle drugs in prisons but also used by burglars to spy houses. In addition, some people fear for their privacy as drones would be a perfect way of spying others. Anyway, I think we all agree that despite the questionable roles the drones present, they are a great innovation and the evolution of these devices cannot stop only for a couple of disadvantages when so many other advantages would rise.
Right now, the specialists are working at a couple of improvements like expanding the flying time or “sense and avoid” technology. Limited flying time is probably the biggest problem drones endure. Unfortunately, being able to fly up to an hour is not enough for any other activity, besides entertaining purposes.
“Sense and avoid” is a technology that would allow drones to fly safely in a shared airspace by avoiding obstacles or following a predefined path. Their efficiency would be increased and they would be more useful. This would be a big breakdown, but there is a lot of development still needed. The main solution would be to implement some new sensors that would allow it to recognise the surroundings. However, this would not be that ideal, as its weight would grow significantly. Another solution is to use the camera each drone has in order to follow and avoid different obstacles, but this implies a lot of computing power. Anyway, this proves that even though this field is still at the beginning, it is a field that keeps evolving and develops day by day. Who knows, probably there will be a day when a utopian script where a drone can be somebody’s right hand without being controlled by any other human, just like in the Sci-Fi movies.]
One of the best out there is the SkyProwler by Krossblade. It looks like an aeroplane but has four propellers that are used every time it takes off or lands. It is able to cruise at 100kph and has an impressive flying time of 40 minutes. In addition, the SkyProwler can fly up to 25 km which is a fairly big distance for a device that has a wingspan of 1 metre and length of 0.5 metres.
In my opinion, the digital world we live in is growing really fast, maybe even faster than we can imagine. And the world is so big we cannot even acknowledge all the changes happening around us. This is why I believe that nobody can know for sure what the future holds for the humanity and because of that a lot of speculations can appear. An old sci-fi movie in which the action took place in the future was presenting the year 2015 as a period of flying cars. However, the future has come and we do not have the flying cars yet, but these mini flying devices fill in really well in my opinion. Nevertheless, analysing this digital society made me understand that because the world is moving so fast you cannot be sure of anything. Who could guess during the 2000’s that a decade later people would want bigger and bigger phones and that Nokia will not be relevant anymore? Or take a look at how storage changed: from floppy disk to CD, from CD to DVD, going to Blu-Rays or microSD cards. But that is irrelevant now because the new generation of laptops does not even have slots for those. Not even the cloud storage is expensive anymore, letting you have a huge amount of data stored on a website. Regarding the drones, my opinion is that this makes will have a lot of unexpected turns and obstacles, but luckily the innovation will continue and hopefully, we will witness something efficient that will make all our lives easier. The point I’m trying to make is that instead of trying to predict what will happen ten years from now on, we could better just stay back, relax and enjoy the opportunities this digital society is offering.