The Humanitarian Side of Drones

Tech Tips

The Humanitarian Side of Drones

When you read about the rising popularity of drones for fun and profit, it’s natural to feel a little uneasy. Who wants to look up at the sky and see dozens of metallic, vaguely insectile robots buzzing around? Will they cause problems for planes? Will they tread on our privacy?

While there are unanswered questions, some folks are working on boosting the drone’s image, showing us the helpful and delightful sides of unmanned aerial vehicles. For instance, the Ada, Michigan-based nonprofit I Like Giving employed their drone to commit random acts of kindness last summer.

I Like Giving released a two-minute video that tracked their drone’s flight as it dropped off a free skateboard at a crowded playground, a dozen doughnuts onto a police cruiser, and a few handfuls of dollar bills onto people in Grand Rapids’ Rosa Parks Circle.

Even though this event might be for publicity, it does make you think: What positive uses can we find for drones? Given their small size and increasingly impressive agility, they have potential to aid people stranded in remote or dangerous places, like deserts or flooded areas, by bringing them food and water or medicine.

SWARM (Search With Aerial RC Multi-Rotor) is a volunteer search and rescue network consisting of more than 1,100 Search and Rescue drone pilots dedicated to searching for missing people—and increasing awareness of drone technology as a boon to society.

Another possible benefit of drones: the work they can do with cameras. Chances are pretty good that if you’ve watched a Hollywood blockbuster in the past couple of years, you’ve seen some nifty camerawork via drone.

Just like GPS technology before it, drones are likely to find more and more ways to become useful to us. Keep your eyes on the skies!