Drones are all around!

drone over city

New emerging technologies and restrictive regulations have not prevented drones from taking off. Here is a small glimpse into many already existing applications.

In 2013, Amazon declared their intention to use drones for delivering their goods. This news – a first among major companies – was met with disbelief. Since then, Google have revealed their own project, tested in Australia. DHL have also presented their “parcelcopter” delivering medicine and other urgent goods to Juist, a small German island in the North Sea. Other existing or projected applications from all around the world deliver food (pizza, sushi, beer…), medicine and documents.

Mesa County (Colorado) police use a drone to take photos of crime scenes – it delivers
aerial views without altering the crime indices. In Switzerland, last November a drone used by border guards located and helped arrest burglars. Criminals also use drones: in January a drone transporting drug crashed
in Tijuana (Mexico).

Shooting a vast battle scene has never been as spectacular and easy to perform.
Hollywood studios are among the companies pushing US legislators to loosen current regulations on commercial drones.

Benefitting from ever advancing and low- cost technologies, recreational drones are also easier to handle than model aircraft or helicopters. Some are equipped with streaming cameras enhancing the cockpit sensation. Guaranteed in-flight emotions.

Cirque du Soleil and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (EPFZ, Switzerland) have created “Sparked”* a dreamlike short movie, showing an electrician “dancing” with flying lamps. Why is this
so original? There is no computer-generated imagery: the lamps are drones driven by EPFZ’s algorithms. Cirque du Soleil could very well integrate drones into their shows.

Influenced by video games, sports broad- casting combines aerial shots and close-ups, to create greater impact. Drones followed skiers during the Winter Olympics in Sotchi, others are used for filming golf competitions. Their images are much more dynamic than those shot by fixed cameras.

Photographers were surely the first to use drones for commercial purposes. Their GoPro’s or even their heavy reflex cameras are able find unprecedented vantage points.

Selfies are no longer limited by the length of your arm. The Hexo+ drone flies around you to film your achievements (mountain- bike, motorcycle, mountaineering…) then smoothly flies back to you. Zano, Airdog or the ultraportable Nixie drones fly on the same market.

Mobile and discreet, drones make it possible to spot and attack targets without the risk of losing a pilot. Their presence in modern
military arsenal has brought about a counter- attack, just as futuristic: US Navy revealed last summer an anti-drone laser canon, the very first directed energy weapons system ever deployed.

Major infrastructure operators (electrical lines, power plants, pipelines, engineering structures…) are able to inspect rapidly and safely.

From coast inspection, to surveillance of poaching or illegal fishing activities, spotting and counting wildlife and cultivated field management: drones are useful to all those who need to see nature from above.

Firemen and rescuers need only a few minutes to activate a drone, assess the scope of a fire, a natural disaster or a wreckage and organize rescue operations accordingly.