Drones Can Do That?

October 19, 2017

Imagine this: you’re looking up at the sky and all of a sudden a burrito drops down out of nowhere! You do one of those cartoon shakes of your head and think Did a burrito really just fall out of the sky?

Sure, in the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, food fell out of the sky, but that was an animated movie—food can’t really fall out of the sky. Or can it? Well, food doesn’t actually fall out of the sky, but it can be delivered by a drone.

By Flirtey – Flirtey, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54823032

Drones are the latest technology being tested to help deliver food and other goods to people. Last year, Domino’s Pizza announced that they would start using drones to deliver pizzas in New Zealand. Amazon successfully delivered its first package to a customer via drone in the United Kingdom. And most recently, Project Wing, one of Google’s affiliated companies, tested drone deliveries of hot burritos and medicine to people living in a rural community in Australia, where it takes a forty-minute car ride to pick up something from the nearest store. What’s particularly tricky about these drone deliveries? Not only are items different temperatures and the packages oddly shaped, but drones also have to navigate around trees and houses as well as drop each package in very specific locations. It won’t be a simple project, but Project Wing believes it’s necessary in order to help people get the things they need more efficiently.

What else are drones being used for?

By Chris Yarzab [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Police work:
This week, the Los Angeles Police Department was given approval to test the use of drones. These drones will have cameras mounted on them and will be used to help police officers scope out dangerous situations. Those who support this idea believe that drones will help keep people and police officers safe. Those against the idea believe that police and drones are a bad mix and worry about how the police might use drones for wrong reasons.

News reporting:
The Federal Aviation Administration, a US government agency that manages all of the rules for flying, just issued CNN (Cable News Network) a waiver for flying drones over open-air crowds of people. That’s a huge win for CNN and news reporting in general. While filmmakers are allowed to use drones to fly overhead to capture specific scenes in movies where groups of actors may be involved, news organizations reporting live from events such as protests have not been able to use drones to capture these events—that is, until earlier this week. Now, instead of getting into a helicopter to capture a story from the sky, CNN can just send their camera-mounted drone!

Medicine delivery:
Rwanda, a country located in East Africa, has already begun using drones to deliver much-needed medical supplies to remote areas of the country. In September, Tanzania, also an East African country, announced that they too will be using drones beginning in early 2018 to make similar deliveries. The use of drones to deliver medical supplies in these areas will not only increase the frequency of deliveries, but it will also reduce the cost of those deliveries.

What are your thoughts on drones? Are they helpful or harmful?