Nine Drone Usage Methods You Might Not Expect

During the latest Super Bowl halftime show, hundreds of Intel-designed “Shooting Star” drones filled the air, transforming the sky into an American flag for Lady Gaga’s performance. This epic display came as a surprise for spectators who might think of drones as tools for military action or consumer delivery service, not artistry. To open up your imagination further, here are a nine other applications for drone usage that you might not have thought about.

1. Fishing and Hunting

Believe or not, drones can fish. At least that’s a theory one Peabody, Kansas, farmer decided to put to the test, attaching a fishing line to his drone. And yes, he managed to catch a fish.

Hunters have taken to using drones, too, flying drones over landscapes to pinpoint the location of their target. But this use caused concern among animal-rights activists, who in turn have worked to regulate and even criminalize the method in various states.

2. Delivering Medicine

Forget Amazon packages: Drones can deliver medical supplies to otherwise hard-to-reach areas. A company called Zipline, for example, uses small 22-pound planes known as Zips to carry packages up to three pounds and deliver them by parachute.

3. Tracking Zika Mosquitoes

No one likes mosquitoes, let alone disease-carrying ones. Soon, drones with special vision technology will be able to pinpoint areas with high concentrations of mosquitoes, set traps to identify different breeds and notify health officials when disease-carrying varieties of the insect enter a region.

4. Enhancing Search and Rescue

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police use drones to save lives, deploying them on search-and-rescue missions in Saskatoon and Nova Scotia. They’ve even been used to locate stranded and lost hikers. That’s a robotic hero right there.

5. Addressing Cardiac Arrest

Thanks to the work of an Alec Momont, an engineering student from the Netherlands, drones can also deliver medical equipment quickly to those suffering cardiac arrest. Because every moment counts in an emergency, allowing a medic to operate the drone remotely means she can observe the situation and provide instructions to bystanders from afar, saving critical minutes of travel time.

6. Bringing Comfort

Ohio-based company Aerial Anthropology serves hospice patients by identifying the location of their favorite memories and sending drones to shoot aerial videos of those spots, which are streamed to them in real time. Drones are particularly useful in capturing images from unique viewpoints, enabling the artist to display different, large-scale perspectives on the scenery that can offer nostalgia and comfort to patients.

7. Teaching Tennis

Want to improve your game? Coaching methods of the future may just involve robots at our side. Richard Branson’s Virgin Active uses drones to drop tennis balls from a variety of angles and heights, teaching tennis players to hit a better overhead smash.

8. Spotting Land Mines

Land mines are notoriously difficult to find and thus claim too many lives. But now, thanks to drones outfitted with special imaging technology, specialists are able to locate land mines and detonate them so they don’t harm anyone.

9. Painting

Robots creating art? Yes, that can happen. It’s doubtful that a drone is the next Picasso, but there’s at least one giving it a try. Based on programming created by a team of computer scientists at McGill University, this drone uses stippling techniques via a sponge soaked in ink to dab on canvass.

Drone usage is growing across industries to enhance creativity, speed and innovation. While any new technology can be misused, all these positive methods should give people less reason to fear — these tiny flying machines really are helping humans.

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