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BW Businessworld

The Age Of The Drones Is Here

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Welcome to the world of flying cams, spider cams, quadrocopters, solar drones, laser drones – all kinds of drones in short – which are set to change our lives, dubbed by some as the super computers of the future.
In recent times they have garnered substantial buzz. Some delightful, some not so; remember the infamous drone strikes. 
Back in 2013, some of us began to get fascinated by the world of drones, when a swarm of around 30 quadcopters created a Star Trek logo to promote the movie in London. A lot has changed since. Earlier,  they were associated them with some MIT lab project or movie stunts, but now they are seen revolutionising a wide range of industries from film photography to research to healthcare and disaster management. They are incredibly helpful in searching for victims in areas of low visibility or accessibility. Paramedics in air or flying ambulances as they are called, they have been tested to dispatch a defibrillator within a 12 sq km zone in one minute (tested by Delft University of Technology), increasing the chances of survival of the patient from a mere 8 per cent to 80 per cent.
But what actually are drones? These are unmanned aerial vehicles, controlled by someone from the ground or programmed to follow set of predetermined tasks. Countries could deploy several armed or surveillance drones but we aren’t going there.
As drones enthrall more and more creative people, they fancy them in their creations. An artist recently created a mesmerising ballet with 16 quadcopters performing a beautifully choreographed dance show reflecting light across a room. 
More recently in the news was Amazon’s announcement of its 30-minute package-delivering project called the “Amazon Prime Air”, promising a courier packet reaching you through a drone.
Several other industries like real estate, media, scientific research, video photography, healthcare, and government departments like police are exploring them in a big way. Drone journalism is another area showing promise. University of Mussouri plans to launch journalism robots (nick name J-bots) and expect it to become mainstay of the media industry soon. Same is the case with tourism and personal tour guides. MIT uses a feature called Skycall for their campus – its an autonomous flying quadcopter and personal tour guide helping visitors navigate their complex campus layout. 
This year at the SXSW (South by Southwest, the Annual music, film, and interactive conference), though drones were disallowed, some incredible wearable drones (drones that launch and land on our bodies) were revealed. An awesome word of possibilities - from drones controlled by voice and guiding an individual in unknown territories after detaching them from the person’s body and flying a few meters above him/her, to drones that will instantly launch above us to protect us from harmful sun’s rays or radiations.
Facebook too has been working on solar drones that will bring the web down to areas with no Internet access, and the US FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is close to taking a call on allowing commercial drone availability. They may have already decided by the time you read this note, and though most commercial drones are still banned, in some exceptional cases they have already granted permissions, eg to Amazon to experiment their project.
Meanwhile, as people all around the world continue to think of new ways to use them, some as heart warming as this San Francisco lover who proposed to his girlfriend, now his fiancée, with a drone by flying the ring to her.
Only future will tell how we find exciting ways to incorporate them in our lives, but whatever it is  - be ready to soon catch your courier packet or your steaming hot pizza outside your door or balcony flying to you. 
The author, Rajeev Sharma, works for JWT and has over 20 years of experience in Digital, New Media and has interests in Emerging Technologies

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