Saturday, December 08, 2012

More on Unmanned Areal Vehicles (UAVs)

I quote from The Economist:
Today the Department of Defence has over 6,000 UAVs, including hundreds based on the Predator. Predators have been used by America in every conflict since the Balkans, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, and have collectively logged millions of flight hours. America’s armed forces plan to spend $37 billion on UAVs in the next decade, increasing their number to more than 8,000.
I suspect that this is another example of American military expenditures driving the development of a technology that will have important spin offs in civilian life.

And from another article:

For small items that are needed urgently, such as medicines, why not use drone helicopters to deliver them, bypassing the need for roads altogether? 
That, at least, was the idea cooked up last year at Singularity University, a Silicon Valley summer school where eager entrepreneurs gather in the hope of solving humanity’s grandest challenges with new technologies. The plan is to build a network of autonomously controlled, multi-rotor unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to carry small packages of a standardised size. Rather than having a drone carry each package directly from sender to recipient, which could involve a long journey beyond the drone’s flying range, the idea is to build a network of base stations, each no more than 10km (6 miles) from the next, with drones carrying packages between them. 
After arrival at a station, a drone would swap its depleted battery pack for a fully charged one before proceeding to the next station. The routing of drones and the allocation of specific packages to specific drones would all be handled automatically, and deliveries would thus be possible over a wide area using a series of hops. It is, in short, a physical implementation of the “packet switching” model that directs data across the internet, which is why its creators call their scheme the “matternet”.
Here we have some thinking about the use of small drones as an appropriate, transformative technology for developing countries. I don't know if this approach will serve to replace roads, or indeed trails. In developing countries wages are low and people can go almost anywhere with motor bikes.

I do suppose that there will be major civilian applications for UAVs, and that they will serve some important functions in poor countries or poor areas of developing nations.

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