A Quadcopter is a four-rotored aerial device that is controlled remotely. Initially, Quadcopters and their cousins, remote controlled airplanes and standard helicopters, were controlled by designated remote control units, built specifically for that purpose. Now, as with so many other things, smartphone technology has changed that all up! Instead of using a remote control, it is possible to control a Quadcopter with a smart phone. In addition to this, Quadcopters are lighter and smaller than ever before, plus they can now be purchased with built in cameras. The cameras can stream video and pictures directly to whomever is holding the smartphone. Pretty cool, no?
So, what does this mean to the average person on the street? It means that drone technology is now available to anyone with a smartphone! For only a small amount of money, often less than three hundred dollars, hobbyists can purchase a quadcopter from amazon.com and become a drone pilot with just a little bit of practice and configuration. Many people who pilot drones do so simply for the fun of it. However, there are lots of reasons to own and pilot a drone. Some are profitable; others are not but are still worthwhile.
A few years ago, if a suspect or missing person was believed to be in a vast or densely wooded area, there were only three options available. These were using search dogs, sending out a search party, or sending up a helicopter and pilot to survey the area from above. The first two options aren’t always possible if the land is impassable, and the third option is stunningly expensive. Today, many police departments use unarmed drones to track suspects and missing persons. It’s safer, uses less man power, and is definitely less expensive.
Activists are using drone technology more and more frequently to monitor farms and factories. They are looking for instances of animal cruelty and abuse of the environment. In recent months, many groups have gone public with aerial videos and pictures of animals forced to live in horrible conditions, of factories dumping pollutants into local water sources, and illegal dumping of trash.
Construction estimators, inspectors, and even insurance claim adjusters often find themselves climbing up and down ladders to inspect shingles, roof top HVAC units, chimneys, and more. This is dangerous work, but now camera-equipped drones can provide a close up view of what’s going on up high while the workers are able to stay safely on the ground.
Everybody who has ever searched for a new home online has spent hours clicking through interior and exterior home photographs. The only problem is that the pictures don’t provide an all-encompassing view of the property. It’s just chunks of images that the viewer must attempt to piece together in his or her mind. Drone technology changes that. Imagine getting a view of an entire property from above that is actually better than Google maps. This gives potential home owners a new perspective as they drive through neighborhoods and spot a home of interest.
Few things are more contentious and difficult to sort out than a land dispute. If counties would use videos and photos from drones, many of these disputes would be resolved quickly without much expense. All that would be required is associating the pictures and videos online with the parcel number and county.
Drone competitions are becoming more and more popular as a means for hobbyists to practice and demonstrate their skills to each other. Competitions such as the ‘Game of Drones’ allow pilots to meet up and challenge each other. The recent movie ‘Big Hero 6’ eluded to drone competitions in its opening scenes.
Well, perhaps, a few minor ones! We tend to value our privacy, and it makes us uncomfortable when someone else is invading it. We now have surveillance cameras everywhere when we are in public, and certainly those assist law enforcement when crimes are committed; we also have traffic cams to catch red light “runners.” But we know that these cameras are in place, and, after all, we are in public. It’s quite another thing to have one’s personal space viewed without knowledge of it. If I am sunbathing in my backyard, for instance, I am not sure I want a Quadkopter filming that!