The Ups and Downs of Today’s Drones

Drones. Whether you love them or hate them, I think we can all agree that they are something we will see more and more of in the future. The question is, is this a good thing or a bad thing? As with much technology, the answer to that depends on who is in control of the drone and what the end purpose of using a drone might be.

Let’s start by looking at drones when they are playing the part of the good guy. After a disaster of any kind, whether it’s a wildfire, a hurricane, an earthquake, or an avalanche, drones can help to save lives. By flying above the affected area, drones can find stranded victims that may not have survived had they waited to be discovered by a human search team. Drones can also be hugely helpful to farmers, by flying over their fields to survey the crops. Embedded sensors can relay information to the farmers such as soil variation, crop growth, watering irregularities, and needs for fertilizers or pesticides. This helps farmers conserve resources, enhance crop yield, and save money.

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While drones can be positive helpers to many Americans, they have a somewhat less-than-ideal impact for others. For one thing, drones are taking the place of humans in the field of delivery of goods. Amazon has begun using drones to deliver packages, and Domino’s has drones delivering their food in several parts of the world. And let’s not forget the aspect of drones that bothers many Americans: the invasion of privacy. In most places, drones are allowed to fly over the homes and properties of civilian citizens and snap photos. I think we can all agree this invasion of our privacy is never welcome.

Lastly, let’s consider the truly ugly side of drone technology. As with any technological device, a drone can go haywire and stop following commands. They have been known to start fires by hitting electrical wires, and they have come perilously close to small airplanes. You wouldn’t want to be on the ground if one of the larger drones came crashing down, right? Even worse than all of this, there is the very real danger of drones being used for criminal purposes. Unsavory folks can fit drones with cameras to collect information needed to carry out their schemes. Worst of all, drones have a capability of being used by terrorists to gather information or deliver weapons to a targeted area.

While drones are one of the latest technological advances that have both a good and a bad side, this predicament is nothing new. Humans have been dealing with the positive and negative effects of science and technology for decades. We can only hope, as time goes by, that humans figure out a way to use drones to the best of their abilities and to put a stop whenever possible to the negative uses of this truly remarkable invention.