Issue 28

The drones are here

Thomas Morris
Freelance Web Developer

The drones are here.  And it's about time we got used to it.

By now, you've probably already heard about the "Drone Revolution" that's taking place.  Sure, they started off with a bad wrap from their initial military applications but people all over the place, from Amazon to backyard hobbyists, are starting to see other uses for drones that can benefit our lives in amazing ways.

Imagine you want someone to record you while you're out running the marathon this weekend.  How do you do it?  Sure, you could call up a friend and ask them to record you.  But how would they do it?  Really, just sit down and think of the logistics here.  Would they run alongside you, camera in hand, bouncing up and down?  Probably not.  Well, maybe they could get in their car and drive slowly beside you, all the while keeping one hand on the camera and the other on the wheel.  Oh yeah, and running over all the other marathoners along the way.  That would be a story for the papers.  Or you could have a drone do it.  Strap a camera to it, start it up, and watch it effortlessly fly alongside your athletic self, recording as it goes (okay, maybe it’ll fly slightly higher than that, we still want to avoid the other runners).  This is just one of the many ways that drones are enabling us to do innumerable things we couldn't do before. 

Amazon is soon rolling out drones that can deliver packages to your door, just 30 minutes after you order them.

Forest managers are now using drones to track wildfires - originally an expensive and time-consuming task reserved for helicopter pilots.

Farmers are letting drones take over the job of monitoring their crops, keeping an eye out for signs of disease or damage.

Everywhere you look, drones are finding their way into everyday life, allowing us new ways to interact with our environment and to extend our capabilities.  The amazing part is, they aren’t even some expensive technology far out of financial reach from the everyman.  Depending on what you want to do with it, you can go online and order a standard sized drone (about 50 cm in diameter) for about 200 EUR or a micro drone that can land on your finger that costs as little as 25 EUR.

Where we see the real innovation happening in terms of drones is in the Maker community – a subculture of technical minded individuals who create high quality electronics and gadgets at home.  Unrestrained by the tangle of corporate bureaucracy and empowered by emerging technologies like home 3D printing, Makers worldwide are poised to rocket society into a new era that blurs the lines between consumer and producer as more and more people create customized gadgets at home to suit their individual needs.

The Tech Makers and Designers group here in Cluj is one such coalition of people pooling its abilities to make brand new things.  Last month, Tech Makers and Designers  started plans to make a drone of its own.  While still in the fund-raising phase of the project, the members of Tech Makers are excited to start working on this project. Once the drone is complete, the group plans to turn the drone over for its members to imagine new ways of using it to benefit the community and the city as a whole.

In all, drones are bound to revolutionize the way we do everything.  From selling houses to preventing poaching to sending packages in the mail, drones are well on their way to make a lasting impression in our lives.  In the next few years, the word “drone” is likely to be as household a term as “smartphone”, tossed around casually without much thought given, meanwhile referring to an object we couldn’t possibly imagine our lives without.

If you’re interested in learning more about Tech Makers and Designers and the work they do and/or would like to make a contribution, please contact drone@clujhub.com.




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